US Steel Tariffs 'Are Essentially Sanctions'
Commenting on a question on the aluminum and steel tariffs recently imposed by the United States against Europe, Canada and Mexico, President Putin remarked that these restrictive measures are essentially sanctions.
"It’s related to the pragmatic national interests of the United States, as its current leadership perceives them," he said.
Therefore, the president added, the global community needs to develop "unified, universally understandable and firm rules of conduct" both for economic interactions and for the security sphere.
National Interests and 'Egotistical Methods'
Replying to a question about international pressure against Moscow, Putin explained that these accusations and sanctions are aimed at containing Russia’s development.
"Why is this being done? It’s because Russia is regarded as a threat, because they perceive Russia as a rival. I believe that this is an erroneous policy, because one should not try and contain anyone, including Russia, but foster cooperation, which would produce a beneficial effect for the global economy," he said.
According to the president, the relations between Russia and the West will return to normal when the Western powers realize than sanctions and pressure do not work against Moscow.
"Yes, every country has its own interests, but they should not be advanced via egotistical political methods," Putin said, adding that many of Russia’s partners are beginning to realize this.
He also noted that the need to get rid of the anti-Russian sanctions is already being publicly discussed in Europe.
Earlier, Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said in an interview with the newspaper Oesterreich that "it is high time to put an end to these painful sanctions and normalize political and economic relations with Russia."
US Shot in the Foot With Dollar Restrictions
While the US dollar currently remains the world’s only reserve currency, Washington’s attempts to limit transactions using US dollars effectively undermine global trust in the currency’s status, Putin said.
According to him, this approach may possibly produce some short-term results political gains, but in the long run it will only lead people to seek alternatives to US dollars.
"Everyone’s is already thinking about creating new universal currencies or about switching to transactions using national currencies," Putin said, adding that the US’ policy is "counterproductive" and tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot.
"If, as Britain claims, a military-grade agent was used against these people, they would’ve died in a matter of minutes or seconds. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, which means that we’re dealing with something other than a military-grade agent," Putin said.
He also added that until Russia is allowed to take part in the investigation and is allowed access to Skripals, it is difficult for Moscow to comment on this matter.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in March on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. The United Kingdom and its allies have accused Moscow of having orchestrated the attack with what UK experts claim was the A234 nerve agent, albeit without presenting any proof. Russian authorities have strongly refuted the allegations as groundless.
What Prevents the 'End of Civilization'
When asked whether a global conflict might break out, Putin quoted legendary physicist Albert Einstein, who once said that while he doesn’t know what weapons might be used to wage Third World War, "World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
As Putin said, “the understanding of the fact that World War III might become the end of the current civilization” should keep the world powers from rash and dangerous actions on the global arena.
"We need to sit at the negotiating table and not just contemplate but actually develop contemporary, up-to-date mechanisms of international and European security," he said.
He also described the US’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as "an attempt to break the strategic parity," noting that the new weapons systems being adopted by the Russian military will help preserve this parity.
Is Trump Pushing Europe Into Putin's Arms?
According to Putin, the best jokes he's heard recently were claims about Donald Trump “pushing Europe into Putin’s arms” and about Russia’s alleged meddling in US elections.
"Just recently one famous and popular German media outlet wrote that President Trump is pushing Europe into Putin’s arms. If we combine it with an earlier joke about Russia allegedly influencing US elections, it all sounds pretty funny," he said.
"First we allegedly influence the US presidential election, and in exchange he gives us Europe as gift. Complete nonsense," Putin remarked, noting that such a statement can only be regarded as a joke.
The Fate of Cryptocurrency
Russia, just like any other country, cannot have "its own cryptocurrency" because the very concept of cryptocurrency “transcends national borders,” Vladimir Putin said.
The president added that cryptocurrency mining is currently not regulated by Russian legislation, and that most countries don’t use cryptocurrencies as means of payment.
"Nevertheless, this phenomenon does exist and it continues to develop. We should watch it closely and analyze it, in order to determine if, at some point, we could take part in this process in order to, among other things, avoid various restrictions in international financial activities," Putin said.