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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 gives Ukraine one month to settle gas debt

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday gave Ukraine a one-month deadline to settle its debt for gas imports from Russia, warning that after this period Moscow would demand pre-payment from Kiev for gas. "We are prepared to wait one month. If after one month we do not receive any payments then we will switch, in line with the contract, to so-called pre-payment," Putin told a phone-in session. This would raise the spectre of Russia cutting off gas to Ukraine if it does not pay in advance and possible disruption of supplies to Europe. sjw/ma/ric

Putin says Russia, Ukraine will reach 'mutual understanding'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was certain that Russia and Ukraine could reach a compromise following Moscow's annexation of Crimea, saying the neighbors had a huge number of common interests. "I'm sure we will come to a mutual understanding with Ukraine. We will not be able to do without each other," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation. (Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Putin says to speed up process of switching Crimea to ruble

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the country would speed up the process of switching Crimea's banking system to the ruble as Moscow looks to integrate the peninsula it annexed last month. Crimea has officially introduced the ruble and started paying out pensions and state salaries in the currency since the region voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia on March 16. Kiev and the West have denounced the annexation.

Snowden asks Putin question on surveillance in phone-in

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on the extent of Moscow's surveillance activities during a phone-in session. Snowden, who has been given asylum in Russia, asked the question in English via video. It was not clear if the video was recorded or was live. Putin replied that the kind of "mass eavesdropping" on the population that Snowden exposed in the United States was impossible as Russia's special services were under strict control. sjw/am/ric

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."

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."
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