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Austria welcomes Putin but rebuffs his call for sanctions to be lifted

Austria welcomes Putin but rebuffs his call for sanctions to be lifted

Russian efforts to disrupt the American presidential election in 2016 remain a source of tension between the two nations and has led to USA sanctions of several Russians close to Putin and his circle.

In his annual address to the nation in early March, President Putin announced that Russian Federation had developed a number of advanced weapons systems, including nuclear-powered cruise missiles, which make all USA capabilities aimed at undermining Russia's nuclear deterrent obsolete.

Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia's annexation of his native Crimea, was convicted of conspiracy to commit terror attacks in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Putin admitted that the intelligence community always leans toward banning or blocking things but added that he will encourage them to find "a civilized solution" without "restricting freedoms".

Russian Federation has been hit with sanctions by the United States and the West over its 2014 annexation of Crimea, its support for separatist rebels in Ukraine's east and its alleged interference in the USA 2016 presidential election.

The Kremlin has recently called for Putin and President Donald Trump to hold a summit on new arms controls.

European leaders long ignored his warnings about the dangers of a world dominated by the United States, Putin said Thursday during his nationally broadcast annual call-in show.

"They are harmful for everyone, those who put them in place and those who are targeted", he said.

"The 13 people indicted are accused of an elaborate plot to disrupt the USA election that allegedly included running a huge social media campaign from their headquarters in St. Petersburg, dubbed the "'troll farm".

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the United States will have to offer North Korea solid security guarantees if it wants to strike a denuclearization deal.

"Did they annex Crimea?" Trade and economic cooperation are at the top of the agenda: Putin is slated to attend a meeting with Russian and Austrian business representatives to discuss investment opportunities and economic cooperation.

On March 4, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found slumped on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury, England. He said that both Russian Federation and the European Union would benefit from resuming full-scale cooperation.

In the transcript, one line stood out.

"But let me draw your attention to the fact that I did not call these deployment sites 'bases, '" he said. "We have started on the trajectory towards robust economic growth in Russian Federation".

On Thursday he said Russia's gross domestic product is now 1.5% higher than a year ago. Yulia Skripal has said since the incident she wants to return to Russian Federation at some point in the future.

Putin's visit to Austria - his first foreign trip since his re-election in March - is seen by some as a provocative move.

In the ORF interview Monday, Putin dismissed claims that the Russian leadership is seeking to maintain links with nationalist parties in Europe in a bid to sow division on the continent.