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Russian President Vladimir Putin says he believes other countries wrongly regard Russia as a threat and that mistaken concept can end if they see that the economic sanctions the West has put on Russia don't serve their interests.

Putin made the remark during the annual "Direct Line" Question & Answer session on Thursday.

"The introduction of United States tariffs on steel, on aluminum, not only for Europe but also for Canada and Mexico, are sanctions disguised in other terms", said Putin, noting that both Donald Trump's recent tariffs, and the long-standing sanctions against Moscow over alleged election meddling and Ukraine, both served to advance "American national interests".

"That is exactly what is happening now".

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in March on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury.

Moscow's ties with European Union countries remain strained after Russia's annexation of Crimea, its involvement in Syria and eastern Ukraine and the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain. Putin announced last December he would reduce Russia's military presence there.

Why did he warn Ukraine not to try anything during the World Cup?

"We would like to be given access to our citizens, to Yulia, and we would like to have the opportunity to take part fully in the investigation", said Putin.

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"Overall, we are heading in the right direction", he said.

Putin, who is at the start of a new six-year term in office, always fields a smattering of foreign policy questions which he typically uses to lash out at the West with whom Moscow's relations are at a post Cold War low.

"We have no plans to shut anything down", said Putin when asked if social media networks, which are harder to monitor than traditional media, would be blocked in Russian Federation. "We have started on the trajectory towards robust economic growth in Russian Federation". I think this is the main reason, ' he said.

And what about plans to pull the Russian military out of Syria?

Zakhar Prilepin, a Russian writer who advises rebels in the Russian-backed, separatist Donetsk region, asked Putin during a televised phone-in to comment about the possibility of Ukraine launching military action during the month-long tournament.

"How low the Western information and political environment has fallen if a restaurateur from Russian Federation could influence elections in the United States or a European country", the Russian Federation leader said. He referred some questions to regional governors, government ministers and state company heads who were shown on giant TV monitors sitting at their desks across Russian Federation, waiting to be quizzed.

Members of the public have submitted over 1.4 million questions, Russian news agencies reported, many of them visible on a special website set up for the event.

"Life is getting worse and worse", read another.


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