Highlights of Vladimir Putin's Direct Line Q&A Session

Posted June 08, 2018

Vladimir Putin takes the oath of office during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on 7 May 2018 after being re-elected as president.

As Vladimir Putin tried to answer as numerous 2 million questions from Russians he could in four and a half hours, personal answers served as interjections to sharp commentary about Russia's complex relationship with the West.

Commenting on a question on the aluminum and steel tariffs recently imposed by the United States against Europe, Canada and Mexico, President Putin remarked that these restrictive measures are essentially sanctions.

Putin and his aides say it is an indispensable tool to gauge public sentiment and learn about people's real problems.

Over the weekend, Strache - whose party in 2016 signed a cooperation agreement with the main Kremlin party, United Russia - said it was time to lift sanctions against Russia. We see and understand what is going on in Iraq.

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Replying to a question about global pressure against Moscow, Putin explained that these accusations and sanctions are aimed at containing Russia's development.

"The more problems at the heart of the European Union, the more risks and problems there are for us".

The threat of mutually assured destruction helped avoid a nuclear war as it kept nuclear powers from making "abrupt moves and forced them to respect one another", Putin said.

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"If, as Britain claims, a military-grade agent was used against these people, they would've died in a matter of minutes or seconds".

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"They are temporary but we will keep them there while it is necessary and is required by our economic interests", he said.

However "the withdrawal of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was an attempt to break that strategic parity", he added.

Austria's OMV is now among European companies involved in the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would double the amount of gas Russian Federation can send directly to Germany, skirting transit countries such as Ukraine - a project opposed by the U.S. and some other EU members. Putin mentioned seeing a German news headline declaring, "Donald Trump pushes Europe into Putin's arms".

"One of the very well-known publishers in Germany wrote that President [Donald] Trump is pushing Europe into Putin's hands", he said. "If we combine it with an earlier joke about Russian Federation allegedly influencing U.S. elections, it all sounds pretty amusing", he said.

"So, we influenced the USA elections, and he gifted us Europe in return?" he asked. He added, however, that he could pull them out of the country quickly if necessary. "Total nonsense. There's no way to describe this other than as a joke".

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In December a year ago, Putin made a surprise visit to Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, Syria where he ordered a partial pullout of the country's troops, saying their mission there was mainly completed.