Russian President Putin’s Annual Phone-in

The following are highlights from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual phone-in on Thursday:

 

ON U.S. TRADE THREAT/STEEL TARIFFS

“The introduction, for example, of restrictive tariffs on steel, on aluminum, not only for Europe but also for Canada and Mexico, in essence these are also sanctions… They are related to the pragmatic national interests of the United States.”

 

ON POSSIBILITY OF MILITARY FLARE-UP IN EASTERN UKRAINE

 

“I hope that things will not come to provocations (during the soccer World Cup). If this happens I think it would have very serious consequences for the Ukrainian government in general.”

 

ON SYRIA

 

“Our soldiers are there (in Syria) in order to secure Russia’s interests in this critically important part of the world, which is so near to us. And they will stay there, for as long as it is in Russia’s interest for them to do so.”

 

“As yet we do not plan to withdraw these forces. But I direct your attention to the fact that I did not call these bases by any other name – I called them bases. We are not building long-term military structures there and if we need to, we could withdraw our military personnel very quickly, without incurring any financial losses.”

 

ON HOSTING THE SOCCER WORLD CUP 

“With regards to the infrastructure, these 11 stadiums. Of course, we spent a lot of money on this and it is imperative that all of this infrastructure, I completely agree, it must work and above all work toward the development of sport on a large scale.”

 

ON THE ECONOMY

“Overall, we are moving in the right direction. We have started on the trajectory toward robust economic growth in Russia. Yes, this growth is humble, small, but it is also not a fall. Growth was at 1.5 percent last year.”

 

ON WESTERN SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA 

“This is a method by which to restrain Russia, the notorious sanctions, because endless accusations lay the groundwork for introducing restraining measures.”

 

“It is because Russia is seen as a threat, because Russia is seen as becoming a competitor. I believe this approach is mistaken.”

 

ON ALLEGED MEDDLING IN 2016 U.S. ELECTION

“Recently one of Germany’s famous and popular publications wrote that President Trump is pushing Europe toward Putin. If we take this together with an earlier joke, that Russia influenced elections in the United States, then this all taken together starts sounding pretty funny. We apparently influenced the election of the U.S. President, and then he gifted us Europe. Total nonsense. There’s no way to describe this other than as a joke.”

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