Highlights of Vladimir Putin's Direct Line Q&A Session

Isaac Cain
June 7, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Chinese state media that he expects economic sanctions to be gradually lifted and Russia's relationship with Western countries to normalise.

The Russian president was speaking after talks with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen.

In remarks to Austrian TV channel ORF on Monday, Putin also said he "fully agreed" with Trump on the possibility of a new arms race between the two nations, but hoped they could head it off, CNN reported.

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 believe that this is an erroneous policy, because one should not try and contain anyone, including Russian Federation, but foster cooperation, which would produce a beneficial effect for the global economy", he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Hans-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party, went as far as to agree to a "cooperation pact" with Mr. Putin's United Russia party. For his part, Van der Bellen underscored Austria's traditional desire "to defuse tensions" adding, "Russia is clearly a part of Europe and not something external".

Asked by an Austrian journalist why there had been no US-Russia summit since Trump was sworn in, Putin said the pair had met a few times at global events but that there were no immediate plans for a formal meeting, the network reported.

His welcome in Austria with a full military reception comes after the new populist government in Italy also said it wanted to restore traditionally close relations between Rome and Moscow, with sanctions to be reviewed.

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TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood weighs in on Putin's visit to Austria.

The trip comes a month before Austria takes over the rotating European Union presidency in July, and a week before Russian, Ukrainian, German and French foreign ministers meet in Berlin on 11 June to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Putin's sixth official visit to the country marks the 50th anniversary of the start of Soviet gas deliveries to the country.

"We have continued our cooperation even during hard times", Kurz said after talks with Putin.

In Warsaw on Tuesday, Poland's president expressed his country's disapproval of the planned Russian-German gas pipeline to the visiting German president.

"Under such circumstances, it makes little sense - viewed from a purely economic point of view - to replace Russian gas with American liquefied gas", he told reporters.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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