Russia: Putin vows not to budge despite extension of EU sanctions

President speaks on EU sanctions and a range of other internal and external matters during annual call-in show.

    Putin spoke during his annual call-in TV show to answer questions from the public [Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters]
    Putin spoke during his annual call-in TV show to answer questions from the public [Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters]

    President Vladimir Putin has vowed not to compromise on Russia's core interests despite yet another extension of European Union sanctions that have already cost his country about $50bn.

    The bloc imposed economic restrictions on Moscow in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backed separatists in the country's east who seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    But Putin on Thursday argued that the EU member states suffered much greater damage as the sanctions encouraged Russia to launch its own production of ship engines and other key industrial products, as well as develop its agricultural sector.

    His comments came as he took part in his 17th annual call-in show on Russia's national television during which he answered questions from the public.

    Here are some of his key points during the event that saw about 1.5 million questions submitted:

    US-Russia ties

    "Dialogue is always good and needed. If the American side shows interest, of course, we are ready for such dialogue. We see what is happening in US domestic politics. There are many restrictions from different institutions, so I think it won't be that easy ... We have things to discuss, both in the field of international security and the economy, among other things."

    Captured Ukrainian sailors

    "The release of the Ukrainian sailors who were detained as part of an incident near the Kerch Strait ... issues like this should not be resolved in isolation. Before resolving these issues, we should think about how to resolve the fate of people we are concerned about, including Russian citizens who are in a similar situation in Ukraine."

    US restrictions on Huawei

    "An attack on Huawei. Where did it come from? And what is the point of it? The only point is to hold back China's development, which has become a global competitor for another global power - the United States. The same thing is happening in respect of Russia and will be happening going forward."

    Russians' incomes

    "It's true that real incomes have been falling for several years. The biggest fall was in 2016, but now incomes have gradually started to recover."

    Consumer lending

    "One of the significant elements of [household] expenses today are loan repayments. Banks today give out loans that are secured against 40 percent of wages, which is risky. In my opinion, the central bank should pay attention to this, because we don't want to create these bubbles in the economy."

    Russia's internet law

    "This has nothing to do with restrictions on the Internet. We have already spoken about Chinese firm Huawei. The United States took a decision and restricted its operations. Most servers are abroad. I hope it won't come to this, that they won't go that far because it would destroy their own system ... but in theory, if these servers were switched off and their operations compromised, then we have to ensure that 'Runet', the Russian segment of the internet, functions in a reliable way."

    US-Iran tensions

    "The US says it does not rule out the use of force ... This would be a disaster for the region. It would lead to a surge in violence and an increase in the number of refugees."

    MH17 probe

    "What we've seen as evidence of Russia's guilt absolutely does not suit us. We believe that there is no proof there."

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies