Putin signs Russian 'counter-sanctions' into law

Russia 'not trying to split EU', says Putin

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned Kiev of "very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood" if it were to launch military action against pro-Russian rebels in the east during the soccer World Cup, which begins in Russia next week.

President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has warned against turning sports sites for upcoming FIFA World Cup into markets.

President Vladimir Putin ridiculed the US indictment of 13 Russians in a television interview broadcast Monday, scoffing at the notion that a person described as his chef could interfere with a USA presidential election.

"Everybody has an interest in getting the sanctions lifted, us too", Putin said.

The Russian president said he had warned in a speech in Munich in 2007 about a growing US sense of exceptionalism and the risk of it imposing its own rules on other countries.

On the global front, Putin also took the opportunity to say that Russian Federation would remain in Syria for as long as it was beneficial to Moscow.

Russia's state-owned news outlet RT seized on the interview, saying Putin "deflected lunges" from the interviewer who asked about Russian election meddling. Well, there you go, you've been hit. "When I am on vacation I see no need to hide behind the bushes, and there is nothing wrong with that", said Putin. "Dinner is served ... please sit down and eat".

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The United States, the European Union and other Western allies introduced a slew of sanctions against Moscow over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and for its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"We decide pragmatically whether to cooperate with someone politically", Putin said when asked in the interview about United Russia's ties with far-right parties. "They see Russian Federation as a threat".

"So, we influenced the USA elections, and he gifted us Europe in return?" he asked.

Questions posted ahead of the event included asking Putin whether he planned to meet U.S. President Donald Trump this year, whether relations with the West would improve anytime soon, how he planned to reduce poverty, and why petrol prices were rising so fast.

Russian state TV reported the public submitted about 2 million questions during the annual phone-in, which Putin has used since 2001 to position himself as a domestic problem solver and a strong defender of Russia's interests on the global stage.

Critics say the event, being held a week before the World Cup starts, is a stage-managed piece of theatre created to let Russians let off steam and fleetingly feel as if they can influence a bureaucratic, top-down system.

"There are rumors circulating now that Mr. Soros is planning to make the euro highly volatile", Putin said, without providing evidence. The country also continues to be a major hub for the import of Russian gas into Europe, and saw trade with Russia increase by 40% over the past year, in spite of the sanction regime.