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Putin Hopes for Normalized US-Russian Ties
Local Editor

The Russian President voiced hope for the normalizing of ties between his country and the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Speaking in a live call-in show with the nation, Putin said Moscow and Washington could cooperate in efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the North Korean nuclear and missile problem.

He said the two countries could also cooperate in dealing with global poverty and efforts to prevent climate change.

Putin also noted that Moscow hopes that the US could play a "constructive role" in helping settle the Ukrainian crisis.

The Russian president described the allegations of Russian meddling in the US election as reflection of "exacerbating political infighting".

He again denied meddling in last year's US election, saying that Russia has openly expressed its views and has not engaged in any covert activities.

Putin said former FBI director James Comey's acknowledgement that he has given his account of conversations with US president Donald Trump to a friend who leaked them to the media is "weird" - and ironically offered him asylum in Russia.

The Russian leader compared Comey's move to that of NSA contractor Edward Snowden - adding on a sarcastic note that Russia could grant Comey political asylum.

Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 when it gave him asylum, resisting US pressure to extradite him.
Putin also told the show that Russia had climbed out of recession, despite continuing western sanctions.

He said the restrictions had forced the country to "switch on our brains" to reduce dependence on energy exports.

The President also deplored the US Senate's decision to impose new sanctions on Russia as a reflection of western efforts to "contain" Russia, but insisted that the measures had only made the country stronger.

The Republican-led Senate voted on Wednesday to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by approving a wide-ranging package of sanctions targeting key sectors of Russia's economy and individuals who carried out cyber-attacks.

The US Senate bill follows up on several rounds of sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union [EU] over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its support for pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Putin argued that Russia had done nothing to warrant the US Senate's move, saying it highlights the west's policy of containing Russia and also reflects domestic infighting and "internal political struggle" in America.

The President said the sanctions had given Russia an incentive to shed its dependence on oil and gas exports and "switch on our brains and talents" to develop other industries.

He emphasized that electronics, aerospace industries and agriculture have all received a boost.

Russia had responded to the US and EU sanctions by halting most western food imports, a move that has helped increase Russian agricultural output.

Russian farmers have pleaded with the Kremlin to keep the import ban even if the west lifts its sanctions, but Putin said that if "our partners lift the sanctions against our economy, we will respond in kind".

The Russian leader claimed that the "crisis is over," pointing at modest economic growth over the past nine months, low inflation and rising currency reserves.

Putin said that a slump in oil prices had been a more important factor in Russia's economic slowdown than the sanctions.

He acknowledged that the Russian economy had not yet shed its dependence on exports of raw materials, but noted that non-energy exports had been growing.

Putin recognized that people's incomes had fallen and 13.5% of Russians now live below the poverty line.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

15-06-2017 | 15:33


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