Russia: Vladimir Putin plays down threat of 'new Cold War'

Russian President says that a stand-off between Russia and the West would not be in any country's interest

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The Independent Online

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has said that a “new Cold War” would not be interest of anyone in the international community.

When asked whether the Ukranian crisis was pushing the world towards a stand-off between Russia and the West, Putin said "I wouldn't like to think that it is the beginning of a new Cold War, because no-one is interested in that and I don't think it will happen."

His comments came at a conference with some of the world’s leading media figures during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

The Russian premier also answered questions on whether he believed Russia’s actions in Ukraine could be leading them into a period of isolation from the international community.

Putin said: "I believe that the isolation of such a country as Russia is immaterial, it is impossible.

"I believe that it would do a lot of damage (economically) and when there is a difficult situation in the world economy, who needs this damage?”

Putin, however, was critical of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU and USA in response to their annexation of the Crimea, calling them "counter-productive” and “not based on any fair treatment of the existing problems".

He said the sanctions, which have seen the assets of some of Russia's leading businessmen and politicians frozen, were dictated by the desire to impose "conditions on Russia which do not correspond to international law or mutual interests or to Russian interests".  

Despite this, Putin outlined his aim to seek diplomatic solutions to the issues currently surrounding the Ukraine, but did say that “those diplomatic tools” had to be used not just  “in the interests of one country"

He added: "There are some red lines that we can't cross and Ukraine and the Crimea is such a red line.”

"Where is the guarantee that in the Crimea there would not be a missile defence system, had not the Crimean people voted for joining Russia? There are no guarantees."

Putin also discussed the $400 billion deal brokered with China. The deal which was signed on Wednesday would see Russia supply the world’s most populated country with gas for the next 30 years.

Asked if this deal would see a reduction in natural gas exports to Europe, Putin said:

"Do you think that we would stop supplying gas to Europe? That would go against our own interests. That would be suicidal."