Putin claims 'new phase' of growth in Russian economy

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Saint Petersburg (AFP)

President Vladimir Putin on Friday insisted Russia's economy was entering a "new phase of expansion" as he sought to push a fragile recovery at the Kremlin's annual showcase forum.

The strongman leader is seeking to burnish his country's economic prospects as it inches its way out of the longest recession in two decades sparked by a slump in oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.

"The economy has entered a new phase of expansion," Putin said at a keynote speech in Saint Petersburg, insisting Russia was "open for joint work, for making good on joint projects that are profitable for all."

Putin pointed to the third successive quarter of growth in the economy and said that the level of foreign investment had climbed to a three-year high despite ties with the West hitting their lowest ebb since the Cold War ended.

While Putin sounded bullish, analysts say that Russia's growth remains fragile and the creaking economy is in serious need of major reforms if it is to avoid long-term stagnation.

Putin repeated calls for bolstering the country's business climate and cleaning up the judiciary, but critics say the Kremlin leader has failed to make good in the past on pledges to make serious changes.