Vladimir Putin: US tariffs on allies amount to sanctions, tells EU leaders ′told you so′ | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.06.2018
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Vladimir Putin: US tariffs on allies amount to sanctions, tells EU leaders 'told you so'

Russia's Vladimir Putin has described the latest US steel tariffs against its long-term allies as unjust "sanctions." Putin has held his annual live television phone-in in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin used his televised call-in show on Thursday to speak out against commodity tariffs imposed by the United States on its western allies.

Taking questions during the annual marathon phone-in, Putin also talked up Russia's long-term economic growth, ruled out withdrawing Russian troops from Syria in the near future, and warned Ukraine of "serious consequences" were it to launch military action against pro-Russian rebels during the soccer World Cup.

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What would you ask Vladimir Putin?

What Putin said about US tariffs 

Putin said he warned European leaders back in 2007 about the risk of US tariffs, only for his warnings to go ignored. The president told Russian viewers:

  • "It appears our partners thought that this would never affect them, these counterproductive politics of restrictions and sanctions. But now we are seeing that this is happening."
  • "Nobody wanted to listen, and nobody did anything to stop this from developing. Well, there you go, you've been hit. Dinner is served ... please sit down and eat."

Putin said the steel tariffs imposed by the US on its Western allies effectively amounted to "sanctions," adding:

  • "(The West) would see what sanctions feel like on their own skin," referring to the sanctions they imposed on Moscow following the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
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Trump's Schizophrenic Sanctions

What Putin said about EU security

Putin also appeared to broach the idea of a new European security set-up, saying US President Donald Trump was seeking to upset the current order.

  • "US withdrawal from treaties on anti-ballistic missiles is an attempt to put an end to strategic parity, but we will respond to this," he said, adding that this should prompt other countries to work together.
  • "We need to work out united and consistently understandable and concrete rules on how to behave in the realm of security and in the realm of economic interaction.
  • "We believe that the unilateral introduction of all kinds of sanctions does not resolve problems, it only worsens them."

However, Putin dispelled the threat of a Third World War, saying:

  • "The understanding that a third world war could be the end of civilization should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization."

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Russian economy lacking reforms

Talk of Russian meddling in US election a 'joke': Putin again rejected outright any notion that the Kremlin may have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to favor Trump, labeling such allegations as "complete nonsense" and a "joke."

No plans for Syria withdrawal: The Russian president said that Russian troops would remain in Syria "as long as it benefits Russia." However, Putin stressed that Russia's air base at Hemeimeem and Tartous naval base do not host any permanent facilities. Russia entered the Syria conflict in 2015, tipping the war in Syrian President Bashar Assad's favor.

A warning shot at Kyiv: Putin warned Ukraine not to escalate tensions against pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass during the coming soccer World Cup. "If this happens I think it would have very serious consequences for the Ukrainian government in general," he said. The World Cup in Russia is set to begin on June 14 and goes on until July 15.

Economic upturn: Having cultivated a reputation as a guarantor of Russian stability, Putin talked up the Russian economy, saying the country had entered "a trajectory of sustainable economic growth." Overall, Russia's economy grew by 1.5 percent last year, he added.

Putin vows no say over successor: Putin also addressed the question almost always put to him during the annual phone in — who will succeed him at the helm of the Kremlin? Putin vowed that he would have no say matter and that it would be up to the Russian people to decide.  

Read more: How the World Cup will impact the Russian economy

dm/kms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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