In Austria, Putin calls for lifting sanctions, Kurz sticks by European Union position

Putin: Mueller Indictments Of Russians Driven By U.S. Politics

Putin visits Austria, says lifting Russia sanctions would benefit all

Some fear he seeks to drive a wedge in it.

This is Putin's first live televised show since he was re-elected in March for a term of office that runs until 2024.

As he watches Europe's confrontation with President Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be enjoying an "I told you so" moment.

He then, though, seemed to imply just that, suggesting that European enthusiasm for USA -led sanctions against Russian Federation was waning.

Austria is an interesting case in point.

Austria, where a coalition of conservatives and the pro-Putin far right is in power, has a history of neutrality and relatively warm ties with Moscow.

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Vladimir Putin tried to reassure Russians that "we're moving in the right direction" even as the economy struggles out of recession, using his annual call-in show with citizens to promise urgent steps on painful problems like rising gasoline prices.

The Russian president said the West's sanctions against Russia served as a "means of containing" his country.

Mr. Putin also faced a question reflecting widespread fears that the government was planning a crackdown on social media sites to quash political dissent.

What some call a "new cold war" between Russia and the West was also fuelled by Moscow's role in the Syrian civil war and the poisoning of a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, in southern England.

That's raised questions in Austria about the real agenda for Putin's visit.

Russian Federation also rejects the allegations against Mutko, and Putin implied keeping him in the government was an issue of loyalty.

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"I hope that things won't get to such provocations but if that does happen, I think that it will have very dire consequences for Ukrainian statehood as a whole", Putin said.

He compared the tariffs to the Western sanctions imposed on Russian Federation, claiming European countries had now fallen foul of the United States in the same way.

"Indeed, Donald Trump and I have, firstly, met a couple of times at various global venues", Putin said according to an official transcript available on the Kremlin's website.

In a related exchange, Putin assured that a new generation of Russian super weapons - unveiled by Putin in a high-profile speech before Russia's Federal Council last March - were largely now operational and ready to defend Russia, despite doubts from outside experts. According to South Korea's Joongang Ilbo, Putin is expected to to Qingdao, China, on Saturday for the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit next weekend.

In interviews with two major European newspapers, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz lifted the veil on the plans of his country's EU presidency, which starts on 1 July.

Moscow will work persistently with that in mind, he said.

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In the a year ago, Mutko has stepped down from roles overseeing government sports policy and the World Cup organizing committee, after having managed most of Russia's preparations for the tournament.

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