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Putin calls sanctions a 'covert form' of protectionism

Ahead of the G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin has restated his anger over sanctions levied against Moscow. In a guest article for a German newspaper, he warned that trade barriers are becoming the norm.

In an editorial published on Thursday in the German business daily Handelsblatt, Putin criticized "politically motivated" sanctions, describing them as a hidden form of trade protectionism.

He said that economic barriers were becoming widespread and a behavioral norm, adding that "unilaterally imposed and politically motivated sanctions on investment, trade and, in particular, technology transfer become its covert form."

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The Russian leader's guest article said that sanctions would not only lead nowhere but "contradict the G20 principles" of working together in the interests of all countries.

"I am convinced that only open trade relations, based on uniform norms and standards, can stimulate the growth of the world economy and promote an improvement in relations between states," Putin added.

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His commentary was published ahead of the G20 summit of leaders of the world's top economies, which begins in the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday.

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Putin is also scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the talks.

The US and the European Union, along with other countries, have imposed a raft of sanctions against Russia for its seizure of Crimea in 2014 and its backing for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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Moscow has responded with measures of its own, including a ban on western food imports.

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Last month, Washington added 38 individuals and entities to its sanctions list, prompting Russia to cancel a meeting with senior US diplomats.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the new measures "seriously threaten the whole relationship" between Moscow and Washington.

Germany has of late softened its stance on sanctions against Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel described as "peculiar" the most recent round of US restrictions.

mm/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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