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Putin: Russia will not be American vassal
April 17, 2015, 7:09 am

Putin said he wants normal relations with Ukraine and is willing to help Kiev overcome its economic crises [Xinhua]

Putin said he wants normal relations with Ukraine and is willing to help Kiev overcome its economic crises [Xinhua]

A record more than three million people sent in their queries and comments to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 13th annual televised question-and-answer session.

For four hours, Putin responded to questions about the annexation of Crimea, the conflict in the Ukraine, and a number of personal queries.

Several phone callers and members of the audience focused on the Russian economy, which has been under pressure from EU and US sanctions slapped on Moscow last year for alleged intervention in Ukraine.

Putin said that while sanctions were unlikely to be lifted any time soon, he insisted that there was an opportunity for Russia to reform its economy, which would ultimately strengthen its future prospects.

The Russian president’s positive outlook about the economy appears to have been buoyed by recent figures which show a rebound.

The ruble, which had been trading at 80 to the dollar just months ago, has gained strength to 49.

The Russian economy – heavily reliant on oil and gas exports – suffered significantly when global prices began to plummet seven months ago.

“Oil prices did grow a little, but the economy’s rebound is not directly linked to it, and experts see it,” he said.

He said that Russia had survived the worst of economic challenges and threw his support behind the country’s bank industry.

“We corrected the ruble’s exchange rate and nothing burst, everything is working,” he added.

The Russian president also dedicated some of his call-in session to warning the US not to repeat the Soviet Union’s post-World War Two mistakes.

He alluded to the Soviet strategy of trying to impose its dominion on East European states, by force if necessary.

“Nothing good came of that and we are still dealing with the [repercussions] today,” he said.

“The Americans are doing something like that now, trying to impose their model on virtually the entire world. They will fail too,” he said.

He added that Washington viewed itself as the only center of power and didn’t see friendly nations as allies, but vassals. Russia would not become a vassal of any power, he said.

Putin criticized the system of sanctions, imposed by the EU and US.

He categorically denied that Russian troops were operating in Ukraine, a central Western accusation, when asked by a prominent opposition activist.

He said that Russia’s primary concerns were to secure and stabilize the borders as well as ensure that people of Russian origins were allowed to live and prosper safely.

“We would seek to restore our relations with Ukraine. This is in our interests,” Putin said.

He added that Russia wanted to work with Ukraine to boost its economy, which has been ravaged since Kiev plunged into a political crisis in 2013, followed by armed conflict in spring 2014.

He urged his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko to fully implement the Minsk Accords.

An early February ceasefire between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev’s military forces appears to be holding in eastern Ukraine despite violations from both sides, international monitors have said.

The UN says that more than 6,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

“A war between Russia and Ukraine is impossible,” Putin said when asked if the conflict could develop into all-out hostilities.

However, challenges do remain. Ukraine wants Russia to stop sending men and materiel over the border into rebel-held territory.

Russia says it has not been supplying the rebels.

In the meantime, Moscow wants to see autonomy granted to the rebels in the east of the country.

The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies

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