Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference.Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it is too early to decide whether to run in the 2018 presidential election, in his annual press conference.

In his three-hour address, the Russian leader said his decision on whether to attempt to win a fourth presidential term would be contingent on the situation in Russia, the Kremlin, the government and the Russian authorities.

Ex-KGB agent Putin was first elected as Russian president in 2000 and served until 2008 when he was replaced by Dmitry Medvedev before re-taking the presidency in 2012.

In other comments during the speech, he said the Nato alliance members were "building a new Berlin Wall" in their policy toward former Soviet states surrounding Russia's Western border.

"We want our partners to understand that the best way is to stop building those walls and to build a united humanitarian space," he continued.

"After the Berlin Wall fell and Soviet Union dissolved, we were open to our partner. What we saw instead is that they directly supported terrorists in North Caucasus."

He also commented on the conflict in Ukraine between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists, saying he hoped it would be solved through negotiations.

He countered questions of Russian intervention in Ukraine by claiming Russia was "not aggressive or encroaching on anyone's interests - just protecting our own".