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Snowden questions Putin on surveillance in phone-in

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday joined a phone-in with Russian President Vladimir Putin, quizzing him over the extent of Moscow's surveillance activities. Putin, a former KGB agent, greeted Snowden as a fellow "former agent" before assuring him that Russia's surveillance of the population was not on a mass scale and strictly controlled by laws.

Russia's Putin acknowledges impact from sanctions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday condemned Western sanctions imposed on a group of Russians and Ukrainians, saying they were aimed at people close to him and in one case had prevented a leading businessman's wife from paying for an operation. He said the wife of Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko, the co-owner of gas producer Novatek, had been unable to pay because of a blocked bank card.

Putin says trust lost in ties with U.S. before Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that trust between Russia and the United States was lost before the crisis in Ukraine but that he wants to restore their cooperation. To achieve that, Putin said, the United States should respect others' interests and respect international law.

Ex-Russian Alaska 'too cold' to annex, Putin jokes

In a patriotic fervour, Russians are asking President Vladimir Putin to bring back the US state of Alaska, sold off to the United States in Tsarist times. Putin's answer? It's too cold. During Putin's annual marathon phone-in session Thursday, when Russians pose questions to the Russian leader, a pensioner asked him to possibly follow the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine with the taking of Alaska. "Faina Ivanovna, dear, why do you need Alaska?" Putin asked the pensioner.

Snowden asks Putin question on surveillance in phone-in

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday made an unexpected intervention in a phone-in with Russian President Vladimir Putin, quizzing him over the extent of Moscow's surveillance activities. Putin, a former KGB agent, greeted Snowden as a fellow "former agent" before assuring him that Russia's surveillance of the population was not on a mass scale and strictly controlled by laws.

Putin says hopes will not have to use force in eastern Ukraine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday did not rule out sending Russian troops into eastern Ukraine but said he hoped he would not need to, and that diplomacy would serve to resolve the crisis there. In a televised call-in with the nation, Putin said Russia "would do everything possible" to help the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, where separatist rebellions have broken out.

Putin admits Russian forces were deployed to Crimea

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said Russian forces had been active in Crimea in order to support local defense forces, the first time he has admitted deployment of Russian troops on the Black Sea peninsula. "We had to take unavoidable steps so that events did not develop as they are currently developing in southeast Ukraine," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation. "Of course our troops stood behind Crimea's self-defense forces."

Ukraine is holding about 10 suspected Russian intelligence agents: state security

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds, the State Security Service (SBU) on Thursday. Answering a journalist's question about comments made on Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the extent of Russian involvement in the Ukraine crisis, an SBU spokeswoman said: "We have about 10 Russians, with Russian passports, who have been detained. "They have all had experience of intelligence work," she said. They were being investigated, she said.

Putin hails Russia's relationship with China

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday relations between Russia and China have developed to an all-time high and they will play a significant role on the global political stage. "It..will significantly influence the modern architecture of international relations," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation, but added that they were "not considering the question of a military-political alliance."

Putin 'very much hopes' will not have to use army in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he very much hopes that he will not have to use his "right" to send Russian military forces into Ukraine amid the intensifying crisis. "I very much hope that I am not obliged to use this right," said Putin, recalling that the Russian upper house of parliament had on March 1 authorised him to send troops onto Ukrainian territory. Putin had said that Russia's main demand was for guarantees of the protection of the rights for Russian-speakers living in south and east Ukraine. "It is a question of guarantees for these people."
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