President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the fall in global oil prices that is hurting Russia’s economy was caused in part by political manipulation.

In an interview with Chinese media published Thursday, Putin did not blame any particular country for the price drop, but some Russian political commentators have depicted it as a Saudi-U.S. plot against Moscow.

“Of course, the obvious reason for the decline in global oil prices is the slowdown in the rate of [global] economic growth, which means energy consumption being reduced in a whole range of countries,” Putin said, according to a text released by the Kremlin.

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