Putin pushes for end to 'harmful' sanctions during Austria visit

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In a lengthy interview, Russian president Vladimir Putin blamed American political conflict for both the U.S. "What, did they 'annex Crimea, ' as many of our partners say?"

"It's high time that we end these wretched sanctions and normalize our political and economic relations with Russia", Mr. Strache, Austria's deputy chancellor, told Austrian newspaper "Österreich".

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he had warned European countries years ago about the risk of the United States imposing its rules on others, and that they were now paying the price for ignoring him.

President Vladimir Putin ridiculed the USA indictment of 13 Russians in a television interview broadcast Monday, scoffing at the notion that a person described as his chef could interfere with a us presidential election. Well there you go.

For Putin, the state visit provided the friendliest of platforms for a charm offensive. You've been hit. Dinner is served.

"Indeed, he runs a restaurant business, it is his job; he is a restaurant keeper in St Petersburg", Putin said.

But, he added, "we are not building long-term installations there and, if necessary, can withdraw our servicemen quite quickly without any material losses".

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"But for the moment, we need them there, they are carrying out important tasks, including providing security for Russian Federation in the region, and helping our interests in the economic sphere".

Moscow's ties with European Union countries remain strained after Russia's annexation of Crimea, its involvement in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England.

But there is one friend of Russian Federation that Putin would never use the "ty" form with: Milos Zeman, the 73-year-old President of the Czech Republic.

Putin did not have much to say on the specific allegations that a Russian missile was responsible for the downing of the plane, except to cast doubt on the worldwide investigation and say that Ukraine shot down a passenger plane by mistake in 2001.

"I hope there won't be any provocations, but if it happens, I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general", he said.

Putin had been asked about the visa problems being experienced by billionaire Roman Abramovich in Britain.

The 65-year-old politician used the event last year to pledge to eradicate spiraling poverty, fielding nearly 70 questions in just under four hours in an event that Kremlin watchers often liken to a tsar listening to his petitioners.

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