Putin addresses election meddling, possibility of third world war

Gladys Abbott
June 8, 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.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed gratitude to Austria's leader Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for the friendly and open atmosphere during his visit to Vienna.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz accepted the request and pledged to approach Mr. Trump, the person said.

However, it has been watered down since it was first conceived by lawmakers in response to the new round of USA sanctions on Russian businesses.

Neither the White House nor the Russian Embassy responded to requests for comment from CNBC.

Russia's state-owned news outlet RT seized on the interview, saying Putin "deflected lunges" from the interviewer who asked about Russian election meddling.

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

Putin also pushed back on the idea that Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller and bankrolled a Russian troll farm, could somehow have swayed us elections.

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Putin mentioned that he had spoken on the phone with Trump recently about their shared intent to avoid an arms race, adding "I hope that someday this work in the interests of the United States and Russian Federation, indeed in the interests of the whole world, will begin, including between us personally".

When asked during the interview with broadcaster ORF if he thinks a nuclear showdown between the USA and North Korea is possible Putin said, "I do not even want to think about it".

Putin said both allegations are "complete nonsense and can only be called a joke".

Putin told ORF that the Russian government has no connection to Prigozhin's activities.

Putin, who easily won re-election in March, has since 2001 used the annual phone-in to cast himself as a decisive troubleshooter on the home front and a staunch defender of Russia's interests on the world stage. "If we combine it with an earlier joke - that Russian Federation influenced the USA election - all that sounds quite amusing".

Putin compared Prigozhin to American billionaire George Soros. U.S. intelligence said Moscow's nuclear-powered hypersonic cruise missile with "unlimited" range had crashed in tests.

"Experts are already discussing this. The State Department will say that it has nothing to do with them - rather it is Mr Soros" private affair.

He also slammed the "persecution" of Russian business people overseas after billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska was targeted in United States sanctions and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich faced delays to his British visa application. Are you satisfied with it?'

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