Putin visits his best buddy in the EU: Austria’s Sebastian Kurz

Putin visits his best buddy in the EU: Austria’s Sebastian Kurz

In response to a question calling on him to enact sanctions against Latvia for allegedly mistreating ethnic Russians there, Putin said he wanted to resolve the situation with talks and not with any measures that would make matters worse.

The Russian leader will meet government and business leaders in Austria on a visit which formally marks 50 years since the two countries' energy firms Gazprom and OMV first signed a gas supply deal.

Critics say the event, which is being held days before Russia hosts the soccer World Cup, is a stage-managed piece of theater created to let Russians let off steam and fleetingly feel like they can influence a bureaucratic top-down system.

He also addressed the possibility of a summit between the US and Russian Federation.

Putin said in an interview with the China Media Group that current sanctions against Russian Federation "neither surprise nor scare us".

Putin was speaking on Thursday during his annual call-in show on state television.

On local questions, Russian President has pledged to respect the freedom of the internet.

"The tragedy we are talking about is bad, and I feel immensely sorry for the victims and their families, but this investigation must be objective and comprehensive", he said.

Putin said both allegations are "complete nonsense and can only be called a joke".

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Putin's statement on Thursday came almost two months after Russian authorities began blocking Telegram, a Russia-developed messaging app, over its refusal to share encryption data with intelligence agencies.

The "traditional question" of Putin's eventual successor came up, to which the 65-year-old said he wouldn't be anointing the next president. "He is, after all, a little older than me", explained Putin, 65.

The Hill reports that official White House statements put the number of calls between the two at eight Trump took office. He suggested the stadiums could add cafes and shopping malls to boost their profitability once the competition is over.

Why did he warn Ukraine not to try anything during the World Cup?

The Russian government says total World Cup costs are around $11 billion, not including some infrastructure spending.

The sanctions, coupled with a global drop in oil prices, contributed to Russia's two-year recession but there are signs of recovery and Mr Putin said Moscow and the European Union would benefit from resuming full-scale cooperation.

On Thursday, he said Russia's gross domestic product is now 1.5 percent higher than a year ago.

Putin, who easily won re-election in March, has since 2001 used the annual phone-in to cast himself as a decisive troubleshooter on the home front and a staunch defender of Russia's interests on the world stage. Yulia Skripal has said since the incident she wants to return to Russian Federation at some point in the future.

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