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Posts tagged ‘Kremlin’

Russian Forces Push Beyond Crimea Before Referendum.


Ukraine said Russian forces tried to push deeper into its territory and the Kremlin strengthened its rhetoric, threatening to escalate the worst diplomatic standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

By Saturday afternoon, The New York Times reports, Russian troops moved beyond the Crimean border and overtook a gas plant just beyond the regional border of Crimea.

Meanwhile, Russian troops entered the Kherson region on the Azov Sea from the Crimea peninsula they already occupy, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, told reporters Saturday at the United Nations in New York. The Foreign Ministry in Kiev issued a statement protesting the seizure by Russian soldiers of the village of Strilkove.

The incursion raises tensions before the Black Sea Crimean region holds a referendum Sunday on joining Russia. While the European Union and the U.S. are threatening to tighten sanctions against Russia if it doesn’t pull back, President Vladimir Putin has said ethnic Russians in the region need protection from “extremists.”

“Russia now takes it as a fact that they’ve picked off Crimea and is sending more soldiers and provocateurs into Ukraine to test the waters and see how much further they can go,” Joerg Forbrig, a senior program officer at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said in a phone interview.

As many as 130 Russian soldiers are in Strilkove, digging trenches and doing “other engineering work,” said Oleh Slobodyan, a spokesman for Border Guard Service. They have three armored personnel carriers and are in control of a Ukrainian natural gas pumping station, he said. There have been no military confrontations between Ukraine and Russia so far, he said.

The UN Security Council met Saturday in New York where Russia vetoed a resolution proposed by the U.S. that stressed the need for political dialogue. Thirteen members of the Security Council backed the resolution and China abstained.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the vote shows Russia is “isolated, alone, wrong.” Chinese Ambassador to UN Liu Jieyi said the resolution would have resulted “in confrontation and further complicate the situation.” He said respecting “sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states” is a “fundamental” in China’s foreign policy.

U.S. officials who monitor social media say the number of posts on Twitter, Facebook and other public Internet sites about possible Russian incursions into eastern Ukraine and a growing number of unidentified men who appear to be Russians with military or police training is rising sharply Saturday.

The officials were quick to add that the trend doesn’t mean any Russian action is imminent and that the accuracy and origin of such posts are difficult to verify quickly. Nevertheless, one of the officials called the trend worrisome.

Clashes erupted Friday in Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv, near Russia’s border, where a shootout left two dead and a policeman injured. Russian troops massed just inside Russia’s border nearby for exercises, stirring concerns of a Kremlin move to annex eastern Ukraine. Russia said it’s examining numerous requests for protection received from people living in Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who met Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov without a breakthrough, warned Russia would face consequences if it failed to change course.

Russia moved more forces into Crimea, bringing the total to about 22,000 soldiers as of Friday evening, Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh said in a website statement. The troops “may be used for an offensive,” he said.

Lavrov expressed outrage over March 13 clashes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which one person was killed and 17 injured, according to the regional government.

“Militants came to Donetsk from other regions and started fighting with demonstrators,” Lavrov said.

Putin is driven by deep geopolitical goals and isn’t likely to fear the consequences of sanctions by Western nations, Eugene Rumer, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington policy group, said in a telephone interview.

After watching the North Atlantic Treaty Organization expand and the U.S. build ties with former Soviet Union countries, Russians feel they “have every reason to push back and expand their ‘sphere of privileged interests,’” Rumer said.

“The confrontation has reached a new level,” acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a website statement late Friday. “Either the new young democracy wins, or a totalitarian curtain falls on Ukraine.”

Putin’s government contends ethnic Russians in Crimea are at risk after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, an assertion that Ukraine’s new leaders deny. The Kremlin supports Crimea’s recently appointed administration, which organized Sunday’s referendum.

Crimean Premier Sergei Aksenov told reporters in the region’s capital, Simferopol, that the peninsula may become part of Russia next week, though full integration may take a year. Turnout is expected to be more than 80 percent, he said.

“Preparations are already under way to incorporate Crimea into Russia,” Sergei Markov, a Kremlin adviser and vice rector of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow, said in a telephone interview from Sevastopol on Saturday.

Russian lawmakers are scheduled to consider legislation March 21 that would allow Russia to incorporate parts of countries where the central authority isn’t functioning and local residents want to secede, he said.

The bill isn’t needed to make Crimea part of Russia because the region already declared independence from Kiev, according to Markov. It would allow for the annexation of parts of eastern Ukraine, though Russia would only want to do that if it’s sure “we are welcomed with flowers,” he said.

Russian stocks posted the biggest weekly drop since May 2012, with the Micex Index sliding 7.6 percent to 1,237.43 Friday, the lowest level since May 2012. Russia’s 10-year bond fell for a sixth day, driving up the yield by 38 basis points to 9.79 percent, the highest level since 2009. The ruble weakened 0.2 percent to 43.0570 against Bank Rossii’s target basket of dollars and euros Friday in Moscow. Gold climbed to the highest in sixth months.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks fell 2 percent this week to 1,841.13, erasing its gains for the year. The UX index of Ukrainian stocks was down 7.1 percent for the week. Even so, Ukrainian Eurobonds and the hryvnia rebounded after Lavrov said Russia had no invasion plans.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to NATO members Poland and Lithuania on March 17, the day after the Crimea vote, for talks on Ukraine, according to a White House statement. The Pentagon said this week that it would send 12 F-16 aircraft to Poland as a sign of U.S. commitment to defend allies in the region, and the U.S. sent six fighter jets to Lithuania last week.

EU foreign ministers, who meet March 17, the day after the Crimea vote, are poised to impose asset freezes and visa bans on people and “entities” involved in Russia’s seizure of the peninsula, an EU official said. The next stage of sanctions would be weighed at a summit at the end of next week.

Forbrig said that visa bans and other political moves aimed at Russia won’t deter Putin.

“If Putin sees the EU sanctions as not strong enough, he may view them as a green light to go further,” Forbrig said.

“We have to get to the material base of Putin’s regime through economic and trade measures that both target his revenue directly and have a snowball effect of scaring off investors and fueling capital flight out of Russia,” he said.

Bloomberg contributed to this report. 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Obama Silent As Ukraine Prepares For War.


SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Ukraine put its military on high alert Sunday in response to Russia’s move to seize control of the Crimean Peninsula, and it threatened war against Moscow if the Kremlin made further incursions into Ukrainian territory as Western powers scrambled to find a response to the crisis.

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“This is the red alert, this is not a threat, this is actually a declaration of war to my country,” Ukraine’s prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, told reporters in English, a day after Russia’s parliament approved the deployment of troops to any part of Ukraine where Moscow deems Russians are in danger. He warned that Ukraine was on the “brink of disaster” and appealed to the international community to stand by Kiev. source – NY Times

by NTEB News Desk

Why A Free Ukraine Is Putin’s Worst Nightmare.


 

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The details still need to be decided, but the revolutionaries have won in Ukraine. Some elements of the old regime may survive, but that is precisely why the protesters on the “Maidan” (Kiev’s main square) don’t trust the mainstream politicians who claim to be negotiating on their behalf.

The politicians in suits can do the donkey work – writing a new constitution to improve on the old one they have just restored, and trying to save the collapsing economy. But the Maidan leaders in the fatigues and helmets will set the agenda on justice – dismantling the militia and reworking the corrupt legal system, so that the many guilty end up behind bars. And there are credible reports that the snipers who killed more than 70 on Thursday were based in the government buildings that are already being occupied by protesters combing for evidence.

Once the world knows who gave the deadly orders, justice will decapitate the old regime. And the “official” opposition will be radicalised by the need to compete with the moral authority of the Maidan.

All of which is the Kremlin’s worst nightmare. When the protests started back in November they were about a trade deal with the EU. Russia was ecstatic that it had persuaded Ukraine to walk away from that deal, and was picking off the other states in the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” programme (Armenia caved in September, Georgia and Moldova were expected to come under enormous pressure in 2014). Russia hoped to drag them into its alternative Eurasian Union instead, which is due to be launched in January 2015.

But this is 10 times worse than Brussels expanding its bureaucracy to Russia’s borders. A real democracy in Ukraine is an existential threat to the entire system that Vladimir Putin has built since 2000. Ironically because Putin is right – most Russians regard Ukraine as a kin state, or not really a different state at all. They are used to stepping in tandem; so if something changes in Ukraine, why not in Russia too? And now the dominoes might fall in the other direction. Other Maidans might appear in other neighbouring states – maybe first in Moldova where the Russia-backed Communist Party was hoping to return to power in elections due in November.

Putin marginalised his own protest movement after the last Russian election cycle. He does not want to see that flare up again. So far, the Russian opposition has been quiet. Few have supported the Ukrainian Maidan, even fewer sound inspired to copy it – for now. But Putin will need to come up with something more convincing than the scattergun propaganda the Russian media has pumped out to date. source – Independent UK.

by NTEB News Desk

Truce Collapses in Ukraine, Violence Intensifies.


Image: Truce Collapses in Ukraine, Violence IntensifiesAnti-government protesters man a barricade on the outskirts of Independence Square in Kiev on Feb. 20.

Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines Thursday in Ukraine’s embattled capital. Government snipers shot back and the almost-medieval melee that ensued left at least 70 people dead and hundreds injured.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes Thursday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid. Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or on planks of wood.

Protesters were also seen leading policemen with their hands held high around the sprawling protest camp in central Kiev. Ukraine’s Interior ministry says 67 police were captured in all. It was not clear how they were taken. An opposition lawmaker said they were being held in Kiev’s occupied city hall.

President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition protesters who demand his resignation are locked in an epic battle over the identity of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. Parts of the country — mostly in its western cities — are in open revolt against Yanukovych’s central government, while many in eastern Ukraine favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.

At least 99 people have died this week in the clashes in Kiev, a sharp reversal in three months of mostly peaceful protests. Now neither side appears willing to compromise, with the opposition insisting on Yanukovych’s resignation and an early election and the president apparently prepared to fight until the end.

Thursday was the deadliest day yet. An AP cameraman saw snipers shooting at protesters in Kiev and video footage showed at least one sniper wearing a Ukraine riot police uniform.

The carnage appears to show that neither Yanukovych nor the opposition leaders appear to be in control of the chaos engulfing Ukraine.

Dr. Oleh Musiy, the top medical coordinator for the protesters told the AP that at least 70 protesters were killed Thursday and over 500 injured, and the death toll could well rise further.

There was no way to immediately verify his statement. Earlier in the day, an Associated Press reporter saw 21 bodies of protesters laid out Thursday on the edge of the capital’s sprawling protest camp.

In addition, one policeman was killed and 28 suffered gunshot wounds Thursday, Interior Ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov told the AP.

A truce announced late Wednesday appeared to have little credibility among hardcore protesters at Kiev’s Independence Square campsite. One camp commander, Oleh Mykhnyuk, told the AP even after the truce, protesters still threw firebombs at riot police on the square. As the sun rose, police pulled back, the protesters followed them and police then began shooting at them, he said.

The Interior Ministry warned Kiev residents to stay indoors Thursday because of the “armed and aggressive mood of the people.”

Yanukovych claimed Thursday that police were not armed and “all measures to stop bloodshed and confrontation are being taken.” But the Interior Ministry later contradicted that, saying law enforcers would get weapons as part of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Some signs emerged that Yanukovych is losing loyalists. The chief of Kiev’s city administration, Volodymyr Makeyenko, announced Thursday he was leaving Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

“We must be guided only by the interests of the people, this is our only chance to save people’s lives,” he said, adding he would continue to fulfill his duties as long as he had the people’s trust.

Another influential member of the ruling party, Serhiy Tyhipko, said both Yanukovych and opposition leaders had “completely lost control of the situation.”

“Their inaction is leading to the strengthening of opposition and human victims,” the Interfax news agency reported.

The parliament building was evacuated Thursday because of fears that protesters would storm it, and the government office and the Foreign Ministry buildings in Kiev were also evacuated. But a parliament session convened in the afternoon, with some pro-government lawmakers heeding the opposition’s call to work out a solution to the crisis.

As the violence exploded and heavy smoke from burning barricades at the encampment belched into the sky, the foreign ministers of three European countries — France, Germany and Poland — met with Yanukovych for five hours after speaking with the opposition leaders. The EU ministers then returned to speak again with opposition leaders.

The 28-nation European Union began an emergency meeting on Ukraine in Brussels to consider sanctions against those behind the violence.

The latest bout of street violence began Tuesday when protesters attacked police lines and set fires outside parliament, accusing Yanukovych of ignoring their demands to enact constitutional reforms that would once again limit the president’s power.

Prior to the deaths Thursday, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said 28 people have died and 287 have been hospitalized this week. Protesters who have set up a medical facility in a downtown cathedral so that wounded colleagues would not be snatched away by police say the number of injured are significantly higher — possibly double or triple that.

The Caritas Ukraine aid group praised the protest medics but said many of the wounded will need long-term care, including prosthetics.

The clashes this week have been the most deadly since protests kicked off in November after Yanukovych shelved an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. Russia then announced a $15 billion bailout for Ukraine, whose economy is in tatters.

The political jockeying for influence in Ukraine has continued. In Moscow, the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin was sending former ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to Ukraine as a mediator.

President Barack Obama stepped in to condemn the violence, warning Wednesday “there will be consequences” for Ukraine if it keeps up. The U.S. has raised the prospect of joining with the EU to impose sanctions against Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will “try to do our best” to fulfill its financial obligations to Ukraine, but indicated Moscow would hold back on further installments of its bailout money until the crisis is resolved.

“We need partners that are in good shape and a Ukrainian government that is legitimate and effective,” he said.

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Ukrainian alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska, 24, said she will not take part in Friday’s women’s slalom due to the developments in Kiev.

“As a protest against lawless actions made toward protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games,” her father and coach, Oleg Matsotskyy, wrote in a Facebook post.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Putin Sets Rival Billionaire Khodorkovsky Free.


Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, left prison on Friday after a pardon from President Vladimir Putin ended a decade in jail that many saw as the fallen oil tycoon’s punishment for daring to challenge the Kremlin.

Russia’s federal prison service said Khodorkovsky was heading for Germany following his release and that his mother, Marina, was undergoing medical treatment there. German officials confirmed he arrived there earlier today.

Khodorkovsky was freed a day after Putin unexpectedly announced he would release one of his most powerful critics. A government source said the move could deflect criticism over Putin’s human rights record as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February.

“He has left the camp. That’s all I can say,” Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant told Reuters by telephone.

Putin surprised Russians and cheered the business community by announcing he would free the 50-year-old businessman because his mother was ill. Investors said it could ease entrepreneurs’ fears of the Kremlin exploiting the courts for political ends.

In a presidential decree signed on Friday, Putin said he was “guided by the principles of humanity.”

Putin had said after a four-hour, end-of-year news conference on Thursday that Khodorkovsky asked for clemency. This took his lawyers by surprise and they said they were checking with their client.

“PUTIN’S PRISONER”

He was scheduled for release next August but supporters had feared the sentence might be extended, as it was once before.

Reporters waiting outside Penal Colony No. 7 at Segezha, near the Finnish border, 300 km (200 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, did not see Khodorkovsky leave. He has spent the past few years working in the camp, in an area that was once a notorious part of Stalin’s Gulag system of labor camps.

In the eyes of critics at home and abroad, his jailing was a significant stain on the record of Putin, 60, who was first elected president in 2000 and has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.

Khodorkovsky came to represent what critics say is the Kremlin’s misuse of the judicial system, curbing the rule of law, and of its refusal to permit dissent.

The authorities deny this, saying judges are independent and that Putin has not cracked down on opponents. The president has, however, singled Khodorkovsky out for bitter personal attacks in the past and ignored many calls for his release.

Thursday’s surprise announcement underlined Putin’s confidence that he has reasserted his authority and is in full control of Russia after seeing off street protests and winning a third presidential term in March 2012.

Putin would not have allowed Khodorkovsky’s release if he saw him as a threat, political strategist Gleb Pavlovsky told Ekho Moskvy radio. “Khodorkovsky is Putin’s prisoner,” he said.

With reporters scrambling for scraps of information and a glimpse of Khodorkovsky, his release echoed the arrival in Russia last summer of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who was kept from the public eye for weeks in what appeared to be a tightly choreographed game of cat-and-mouse.

Putin said two members of the Pussy Riot protest group will also be freed, under an amnesty passed by parliament this week.

Khodorkovsky had been in jail since his arrest in October 2003 in what supporters say was part of a Kremlin campaign to punish him for political challenges to Putin, gain control of his oil assets and warn other tycoons to toe the line.

END OF EMPIRE

The oil baron fell out with Putin before his arrest as the president clipped the wings of wealthy “oligarchs” who had become powerful during the chaotic years of Boris Yeltsin’s rule following the collapse of Soviet communism.

His company, Yukos, was broken up and sold off, mainly into state hands, following his arrest at gunpoint on an airport runway in Siberia on fraud and tax evasion charges.

Yukos’ prize production asset ended up in the hands of state oil company Rosneft, which is now headed by close Putin ally Igor Sechin. Sechin said on Friday that he saw no threat of legal action from Khodorkovsky, state-run news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Russian shares initially rose after Putin’s announcement on Thursday but later settled back.

A sustained rally would require “a consistent track record of implementation of market-friendly reforms – in particular, of steps to improve the judicial system, so that decisions are more predictable and property rights better protected,” a Moscow-based economist at an investment bank said.

Putin has staked a great deal of personal prestige on the Winter Games at Sochi on the Black Sea and is under fire abroad over a law banning the spread of “gay propaganda” among minors.

A government source said the pardons would deprive Western critics of a cause: “I think the decision to free Pussy Riot and Khodorkovsky was taken just before the Olympic Games so that they will not be able to wield this banner against Putin.”

President Barack Obama and the presidents of France and Germany will skip the Olympics, and the United States has named openly gay athletes as members of its delegation in an apparent message to Putin.

Putin’s amnesty is also expected to end the prosecution of 30 people arrested in Russia over a Greenpeace protest against oil drilling in the Arctic and allow the 26 foreigners among them to go home.

They faced up to seven years in prison if convicted in another case that has harmed Putin’s image in the West.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Putin to Pardon Jailed Tycoon Khodorkovsky.


Image: Putin to Pardon Jailed Tycoon KhodorkovskyA demonstrator holds a portrait of Mikhail Khodorkovsky during a rally marking the 50th birthday of Russia’s former richest man in Moscow on June 26.

MOSCOWPresident Vladimir Putin is to pardon one of his best known opponents, jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in what may be a gesture to critics of his human rights record before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics.

Putin made the announcement that he would soon free Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, after a marathon news conference in which he exuded confidence that he has reasserted his authority in the face of street protests.

Editor’s NotePutin Looks to Build on Foreign Policy Successes
Khodorkovsky, 50, spectacularly fell out with Putin a decade ago and had his Yukos oil company dissolved following his arrest on fraud and tax evasion charges in 2003.

He became Putin’s nemesis, a symbol of what investors say is the Kremlin‘s abuse of the courts for political ends — and share prices rose in Moscow on the news he would be pardoned.

Putin has long singled out Khodorkovsky, who would be due for release in August, for bitter personal attacks, once saying that “a thief should sit in jail.”

On Thursday, he said: “He has been in jail already more than 10 years. This is a serious punishment.”

Saying that Khodorkovsky’s mother was ill, he added: “I decided that, with these circumstances in mind, we should make a decision to pardon him.”

Russian stocks rose by 1.3 percent after Putin’s comment, even though his lawyers and mother said he had not asked for a pardon. One of the lawyers said, however, that Putin did not need a pardon request to release him from prison.

Investors had long seen the treatment of a man who built a business empire on the ruins of Soviet communism as evidence of the weakness of property rights and the rule of law in Russia.

Supporters say Khodorkovsky was jailed to curb a political challenge to Putin, bring his oil assets under state control and send a signal to other wealthy “oligarchs” to toe the line. His assets were sold off, mainly into state hands.

In the eyes of Kremlin critics at home and abroad, Khodorkovsky’s jailing is one of the biggest stains on the record of Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.

Khodorkovsky’s mother, Marina, who will turn 80 next year, said she had just heard the reports and was unaware of a request for a pardon.

“I want to believe he will pardon him,” she told Reuters. “I want to believe Putin is not totally lost.”

Khodorkovsky is due for release in August. But he has previously had his jail term extended on other charges and analysts have said Putin would allow Khodorkovsky to walk free only if he no longer regarded him as a political threat.

Editor’s Note: North Korea’s Brutal Purge Raises Serious Security Questions 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Putin Denies Strains With ‘Interesting’ Obama Ahead of G-20.


Image: Putin Denies Strains With 'Interesting' Obama Ahead of G-20

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday rejected claims he has a poor personal relationship with President Barack Obama, praising his American counterpart as direct and “interesting” to work with.

Putin described Obama as a “concrete, business-like” partner, during an interview with state-run Channel One television ahead of the G-20 summit Russia hosts in Saint Petersburg starting Thursday.

“All our talks are very constructive in nature, very substantive and rather frank,” Putin said in an interview released on Wednesday.

“In this respect the U.S. president is a very good interlocutor, he is easy to talk to because it’s clear what the person wants, his position is clear, he listens to the position of another person.”

“It’s interesting for me to work with him.”

After Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term last year, ties with the United States dramatically deteriorated over a host of issues including the Syrian crisis and human rights.

Tensions reached a peak after Moscow this summer gave asylum to the U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden prompting Obama to scrap his planned bilateral visit to Moscow ahead of the G20.

Putin admitted he was disappointed by his U.S. counterpart’s decision but noted it was not a “catastrophe” and he understood that some of Moscow’s decisions did not sit well with the U.S. administration.

“I think it would be good not to get irritable but for all of us to become patient and work to find solutions.”

The Kremlin earlier said a bilateral meeting or even less formal talks were not scheduled for Putin and Obama at the G-20 summit but the Russian strongman said he was looking forward to having a discussion with Obama.

The previous meeting between the two leaders at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland in June was visibly frosty, with journalists scrutinising their body language and pointing to their apparent unease with each other.

Afterwards Obama admitted Putin often looked like “the bored kid in the back of the classroom.”

Putin said he was surprised to hear observers interpret their body language.

“Sometimes I am surprised to read about the language of gestures, about how bored we are or that we behave in some other way. Who can say except ourselves what’s on our mind and in our heart?”

“There are some gestures that can of course be interpreted unambiguously but no-one has ever seen such gestures from me towards Obama or from Obama towards me and I hope that will never happen,” Putin said. “And the rest is just figments of imagination.”

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

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