MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he hopes for the full resumption of contacts between Russian and US officials in the future.
“We have some contacts with them, but our colleagues made the decision to suspend them. I hope that, with time, everything will fall into place,” Putin said during a live question and answer session with the public on Thursday.
Responding to a question, Putin said that if he were drowning, he was sure that President Barack Obama would save him.
“I think, he is a decent and courageous person, and he would do that,” Putin said.
Relations between Russia and the United States have reached a low point over the ongoing Ukrainian crisis that began in February when the Ukrainian Parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
Russia has described the overthrow as an illegitimate fascist coup and a military seizure of power that resulted in Moscow taking steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine and reunify with Crimea following a referendum in the region last month.
American officials, siding with the new authorities in Kiev, continue to blame Russia for meddling with Ukraine’s internal affairs and violating the country’s territorial integrity.
Obama spoke to Putin in a telephone call earlier this week, accusing Russia of supporting armed Ukrainian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine. Putin denied the claims.
“In response to US concerns over Russia’s alleged involvement in southeastern Ukraine, the Russian president stressed that these allegations are based on false reports,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Southeastern Ukraine is currently gripped by pro-federalization protests with demonstrators refusing to recognize the interim government and calling for referendums on the autonomy of their respective regions.
In response to Crimea’s reunification, the US imposed targeted sanctions against several high-ranking Russian officials.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned the move, saying the sanctions were counterproductive and unacceptable.
“This is quite an unscrupulous approach because cooperation needs to be fair. If we are partners, then our interests need to be considered on all issues on the agenda,” the foreign minister said.