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Russia’s Putin accuses Obama of hostility, meddling

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin accused US counterpart Barack Obama of a hostile attitude towards Russia, warning against “attempts to blackmail” Moscow.

Speaking ahead of his visit to EU aspirant Serbia on Thursday and key talks with EU leaders on Friday, Putin minced no words, demanding that Washington take Moscow’s interests into account.

The Russian strongman took issue with Obama’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month, when he listed “Russia’s aggression” in eastern Ukraine among top global threats, along with Islamic State jihadists and the Ebola outbreak in western Africa.

“Together with the limits introduced against entire sectors of our economy it is hard to call such approach anything but hostile,” Putin told the Serbian daily Politika.

“We are hoping that our partners will understand the recklessness of attempts to blackmail Russia, (and) remember what discord between large nuclear powers can do to strategic stability,” Putin said in comments released by the Kremlin late Wednesday.

Putin also accused Washington of meddling in his country’s affairs, charging that the United States provoked a crisis in Ukraine and then shifted the blame onto Russia.

“What has been happening since the start of the year is even more dispiriting,” Putin said.

“Washington actively supported the Maidan (protests) and began to blame Russia for provoking a crisis when its proteges in Kiev through their rabid nationalism turned a significant part of Ukraine against it and threw the country into civil war.”

Putin reiterated that Moscow was ready to mend fences but only if its interests are genuinely taken into account.

“We are ready to develop constructive dialogue based on principles of equality and taking each other’s interests into account in earnest.”

Russia is at loggerheads with the West after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March and its support for separatist fighters in the former Soviet country’s eastern belt.

Kiev and the West have accused the Kremlin of sending regular troops into Ukraine to prop up separatists battling Kiev authorities. Moscow has denied the claim.

Putin’s predecessor at the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev spearheaded a “re-set” in ties with Washington but ties have quickly unravelled after Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012- AFP

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