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Putin Hopes for Change in U.S. Policy

July 31, 2017 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK yesterday, in which he commented on current relations with the United States, and Russia’s decision to demand that the United States reduce its diplomatic personnel in Russia by September, announced by the Foreign Ministry on July 28.

"As for other possible measures, or is that too much or not, it is quite painful from the point of view of operating the diplomatic mission. Since out of more than 1,000 employees, diplomats and technical staff, who have been and are still working in Russia, 755 will have to finish their work in Russia,"

he said to VGTRK host Vladimir Solovyov.

Putin answered why the measures were taken, saying:

"Because the American side once again made an absolutely ungrounded—which is important—step to deteriorate the Russian-U.S. relations, imposing illegal restrictions and trying to press other countries, including its allies, which are interested in the development and maintaining of relations with Russia.

"We have been waiting for quite a long time for any positive changes [in the United States’ attitudes to Russia]; we have hoped that the situation will change somehow. But, to all appearances, even if it ever changes, it will not be soon,"

he said. "I thought we must demonstrate that we are not going to leave anything unanswered, either."

As for imposing new sanctions against the United States, Putin said:

"The question is whether it is expedient to make further steps and which steps we can make.

"We do have what to say and impose restrictions in such spheres of our joint activities that would be very painful for the U.S. side. But I don’t think it should be done, as it would harm the development of international relations,"

he said, adding that it would harm "not only the Russian-U.S. relations as such but would do certain damage to us.

"Theoretically, there might come the time when losses from attempts to exert pressure on Russia would be equal to the negative impacts stemming from certain restrictions on our cooperation. Well, when such a moment comes, we can look at other options of responses. But I hope such a moment will never come. As of today, I am against,"

Putin said.

President Putin, however, said there are areas where there continues to be cooperation between Russia and the U.S.

"There are very important spheres of cooperation, including non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—and here we are playing the first violin, along with the Unites States, and strengthening of this regime, as well as fighting against terrorism,"

he said.

"Judging by what has been done recently (let us wait and see how the situation develops further), the establishment of the de-escalation zone in Syria is a concrete step, a concrete result of joint efforts,"

he emphasized.

"Not oanly in the interests of Syria and Russia but also in the interests of Jordan and Israel, and, hence, in the interests of the United States, as this is a region of U.S. interests. So, we are working and achieving results even now, in this rather difficult situation."

In other areas of cooperation, Putin continued:

"Well, we have good plans for cooperation in outer space. For instance, both our and American researchers are interested in possible joint efforts to explore Venus,"

he said.

Another major area of cooperation President Putin cited, according to the TASS report, involves problems of cyber security:

"I have already said that we have repeatedly invited the American side to arrange cooperation to secure our interests, both Russia’s and the United States’ and global, and to establish control over such negative activities as cyber-crime,"

he said.

"Instead of making concrete steps to begin constructive cooperation, we only hear ungrounded accusations of meddling in the United States’s domestic affairs."

The President continued that the two countries can establish much in economic cooperation, saying,

"We have done much in the sphere of aviation, in the sphere of space exploration, and we have good perspectives, let alone U.S. spacecraft that are launched by our rockets, let alone the international space program.