He also surprised many by backing a draconian bill that will ban the 1,000 or so annual adoptions of Russian children by US citizens and levy tough restrictions on US passport holders doing almost anything in Russia. The bill looks set to sail through its third and final reading in the State Duma Friday.
A few of Putin's points sounded downright whimsical, including a discussion of his decision to grant a Russian passport to tax-hopping French actor Gérard Depardieu, and his insistence that he knows when the world is actually going to end (hint: it's not tomorrow).
On the matter of his health, which has dominated the Moscow rumor mill ever since Putin was spotted limping painfully at last September's APEC summit in Vladivostok, Putin had some blunt words for the journalist who asked.
"This issue is beneficial only for political opponents who are trying to question the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the authorities," he said.
"I can give the traditional answer to the health question: Don't bother waiting [for my demise]," he added.
Many experts had expected that Putin would support the Duma's riposte to the US Magnitsky List, the Dima Yakovlev bill, which imposes tit-for-tat sanctions on US officials accused of mistreating Russians, but draws the line at the more extreme amendments loaded onto it this week by Duma hard-liners, including the ban on US adoptions of Russian children.
Several Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have spoken out against the proposed ban, if only because it wrecks many years of painstaking Russian diplomacy – which resulted in a bilateral US-Russia adoption accord that finally came into force just last month.