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Putin tells Merkel Ukraine needs constitutional reform

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in phone talks on Monday that Ukraine needs constitutional reform and also said that Moldova's breakaway Transdniestr region requires measures to end a de facto blockade. "Discussing various aspects of the situation in Ukraine... Putin stressed the importance of holding constitutional reforms" in Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin suggests to Obama examining 'possible steps' to calm Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to his US counterpart Barack Obama in a phone call between the two leaders that the international community could examine joint steps to calm the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said Saturday. Putin in the call also raised alarm over what he described as the "continued outbursts by extremists" in Kiev and also over the situation in the largely-Russian speaking rebel Moldovan region of Transdniestr.

Putin has 'no intention' of further military moves into Ukraine

The UN secretary general said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin assured him he had no intention of orchestrating further incursions into Ukrainian territory. Ban Ki-moon told reporters that Putin told him "he had no intention to make any military move" after briefing the UN Security Council on his recent talks in Moscow and Kiev. Ban was responding to a question from a reporter on whether Putin gave him any assurances that Russia was not planning to go into southern and eastern Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea.

Putin says Crimea showed 'new capacities' of Russian army

President Vladimir Putin on Friday congratulated the Russian armed forces for their role in the takeover by Moscow of Crimea from Ukraine, saying they had shown the new capacities of the Russian army. "The recent events in Crimea were a serious test. They demonstrated the new capacities of our armed forces in terms of quality and the high moral spirit of the personnel," he said at a televised military ceremony.

Putin says Crimea showed 'new capacities' of Russian army

President Vladimir Putin on Friday congratulated the Russian armed forces for their role in the takeover by Moscow of Crimea from Ukraine, saying they had showed the new capacities of the Russian army. "The recent events in Crimea were a serious test. They demonstrated the new capacities of our armed forces in terms of quality and the high moral spirit of the personnel," he said, quoted by Russian news agencies, for the first time confirming the direct involvement of the Russian army in the seizure. sjw/yad

Siemens plans long term Russia investment, CEO tells Putin

The chief executive of Siemens told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday the German industrial giant plans long-term investment in Russia, news agencies reported, in a key sign of confidence in Russia's economy despite the outcry over its intervention in Crimea. Siemens chief Joe Kaeser said at a meeting at Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence that his company "would put the emphasis on long-term cooperation in the sphere of investment", in comments translated into Russian by domestic news agencies.

Siemens plans long-term Russia investment, CEO tells Putin

The chief executive of Siemens told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday the German industrial giant plans long-term investment in Russia, in a key sign of confidence in Russia's economy despite the outcry over its intervention in Crimea. Siemens chief Joe Kaeser said at a meeting at Putin's Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow that his company "would put the emphasis on long-term cooperation in the sphere of investment", in comments translated into Russian by domestic news agencies.

Putin uses Olympics cash to start Soviet-style fitness program

By Alexei Anishchuk MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin launched a program to improve the physical fitness of Russians on Monday, using funds from the Winter Olympics to revive a Soviet-era plan. Speaking at a meeting with officials in the Kremlin, Putin said that reinstating the plan, first introduced in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin and known in Russia by the acronym GTO, would "pay homage to our national historical traditions".

Putin ally suggests U.S. sanctions on his bank have backfired

By Steve Gutterman MOSCOW (Reuters) - An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who heads a bank that was hit by U.S. sanctions over the Crimea crisis suggested on Sunday the move had backfired by helping him win new clients. Yuri Kovalchuk, chairman of Bank Rossiya, also used a rare television appearance to make clear that other wealthy Russians should show their patriotism during the crisis.

Effectiveness of penalties against Russia in doubt if goal is to roll back Crimean incursion

WASHINGTON - U.S. penalties against a Russian bank and the Kremlin's inner circle have pinched Moscow, but their effectiveness is in doubt if the goal is to get President Vladimir Putin to roll back his forces from Crimea or prevent more land grabs. Putin has mocked the punitive steps President Barack Obama has taken so far.
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