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Putin expects no new Cold War over Ukraine

Source: Reuters - Sat, 24 May 2014 15:10 GMT
Author: Reuters
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ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 24 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he did not expect a new Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine and denied trying to revive the Soviet Union following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

In an interview with international news agencies, including Reuters, Putin blamed the violence and political instability in Ukraine on the West and said he hoped Europe and the United States were ready for compromise.

"I would not like to think this is the start of a new Cold war. It is in no one's interest and I think it will not happen," said Putin, sitting at a large table with journalists in a palace outside the former imperial capital, St Petersburg.

He denied that plans to form a Russia-led trading bloc with two former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan and Belarus, meant he wanted to rebuild as much as he could of the Soviet empire that collapsed in 1991.

"They try to stick this label on us - a label that we are trying to restore an empire, the Soviet Union, make everyone subordinate. This absolutely does not correspond to reality," he said. "It is a media weapon of war."

East-West relations have reached their lowest level since the end of the Cold War following the overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Moscow president in February and Russia's annexation of Crimea in March.

Holding the briefing on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, the country's largest economic event, Putin said that Russia took account of other countries' interests, and must also be treated equally.

Criticising European Union and U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, he said Russia would not be isolated internationally because of the crisis.

"I think that the idea of isolating such a country can only be temporary. It is impossible," he said.

Russia signed this week a 30-year deal to supply natural gas to China, worth $400 billion. (Reporting by Paul Ingrassia and Alexei Anishchuk, writing by Timothy Heritage, editing by Lidia Kelly)

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