Putin: Trump and I 'regularly talk over the phone'

Mikhail Klimentyev  Presidential press-service  TASS

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.

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

"The understanding that a third world war could be the end of civilization should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the worldwide arena that are highly unsafe for modern civilization", Putin said during his annual televised call-in show where he fields questions from the public.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said his country shares important and friendly relations with the people of Kurdistan, adding that all deals between Moscow and Erbil are legitimate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he "fully" agrees with President Donald Trump on the treat of a new arms race with the USA - and denied that the oligarch known as "Putin's chef" could have influenced the 2016 elections. Well, there you go, you've been hit. "Dinner is served. please sit down and eat". Putin, 65, and his aides say it is an indispensable tool to gauge public sentiment and learn about people's real problems.

Russia's state-owned news outlet RT seized on the interview, saying Putin "deflected lunges" from the interviewer who asked about Russian election meddling.

"But for the moment, we need them there, they are carrying out important tasks, including providing security for Russian Federation in the region, and helping our interests in the economic sphere".

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Moscow's ties with European Union countries remain strained after Russia's annexation of Crimea, its involvement in Syria and eastern Ukraine and the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.

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 president issued a stern warning to Ukraine not to undertake any attacks on Moscow-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country during the upcoming soccer World Cup.

When asked during the interview with broadcaster ORF if he thinks a nuclear showdown between the USA and North Korea is possible Putin said, "I do not even want to think about it".

"I hope that there won't be any provocations, but if it happens I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general", he said. Asked by a young blogger whether the government had plans to shut down Instagram and YouTube, Putin insisted that it does not.

The event marked Putin's 11th time answering questions as president.

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