Putin: West wrongly sees Russia as a threat


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he believes other countries wrongly regard Russia as a threat and that mistaken concept can end if they see that the economic sanctions the West has put on Russia don’t serve their interests.
Russia has been hit with sanctions by the United States and the West over its 2014 annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist rebels in Ukraine’s east and its alleged interference in the US 2016 presidential election.
Britain has also blamed the nerve agent poisoning in the U.K. of a Russian former spy and his daughter on Russia, which it denies. Both the West and Russia have expelled more than 150 diplomats on each side over that issue.
“This pressure will end when our partners become convinced that the methods used by them are ineffective, counterproductive and harmful to all,” Putin said Thursday. “They see Russia as a threat. They see that Russia has become a competitor to them … we propose that this is a very mistaken policy.”
The annual call-in show, like Putin’s marathon news conference each winter, is an elaborate demonstration of Putin’s stamina, lasting several hours and reinforcing his dominance of Russia’s politics. The nationwide broadcast on state TV channels showed frequent shots of communications workers at computers monitoring questions submitted by viewers.
Putin denies Kremlin intrusion in 2016 US vote: Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is a “joke” to suggest that the Kremlin may have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to favour Donald Trump.
Putin was speaking on Thursday during his annual call-in show on state television.
Asked about the best joke he heard recently, Putin said it was something he read in German media about Trump “pushing Europe into Putin’s hands.” Putin also recalled reports of Russia’s interference in the US elections, saying that if the two statements were combined, it would be “funny.”
Putin said both allegations are “complete nonsense and can only be called a joke.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to respect the freedom of the internet.
Putin’s statement on Thursday came nearly two months after Russian authorities began blocking Telegram, a Russia-developed messaging app, over its refusal to share encryption data with intelligence agencies.
Asked during his call-in show whether Russia was considering blocking other popular apps or websites, Putin said authorities “are not going to shut down anything.”
Putin warns Ukraine against military action in east during World Cup: President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned Kiev of “very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood” if it were to launch military action against pro-Russian rebels in the east during the soccer World Cup, which begins in Russia next week.
Zakhar Prilepin, a Russian writer who advises rebels in the Russian-backed, separatist Donetsk region, asked Putin to comment during a televised call-in about the possibility of Ukraine launching military action.
“I hope that there won’t be any provocations but, if it happens, I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general,” Putin said.