nsucurrent.com March 20, 2018

Putin says Western sanctions made Russian Federation stronger and comments on Comey leak

16 June 2017, 06:05 | Colleen Roy

Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday offered to give political asylum to former FBI Director James Comey, poking at tensions between Comey and President Trump.

Answering questions in the Thursday live broadcast, Putin said it was "very strange" that a director of an intelligence agency would make notes of his conversations with President Donald Trump and then leak them to public.

London [U.K], June 15: Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a satire remark on fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director saying he is following the footsteps of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and therefore James Comey is welcome to seek asylum in Russia.

"This sounds unusual when a secret service chief records his conversation with the commander-in-chief to hand the record to the media", Putin said of Comey's practice of note taking.

In his testimony before the US Senate last week, Comey said there was "no doubt" that Russia interfered in November's presidential election, and said that the plot reached to the highest echelons of Russian state.

Noting that the U.S. Senate has moved to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation and to prevent the Trump administration from rolling back the sanctions without congressional approval, Putin said, "Whatever the case, I believe this is utterly groundless". If extradited to the U.S., Snowden would face espionage charges.

On a conciliatory note, Putin added that Russian Federation still hopes for normalization of ties with the U.S.

"I don't think I have the right to give you any advice, but I want to thank you for your position, and we know that we have a lot of friends in the United States", said Putin.

Russia's medium-term plans in Syria include improving capability of the Syrian armed forces which would allow to relocate Russian troops in the country to the existing Russian bases, Putin said.

Speaking in a televised call-in show Thursday, Putin said the campaign in Syria that Russian Federation has conducted since September 2015 has allowed the military to test its state-of-the art weapons in real combat.

Discussing the economy, the Russian leader claimed that the "crisis is over", pointing at modest economic growth over the past nine months, low inflation and rising currency reserves.

However, Moscow's hopes of a new start to relations under Trump have been overshadowed by the allegations of its interference in the election.

Putin has two daughters with his ex-wife, Lyudmila.

Putin said Moscow and Washington could cooperate in efforts to prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, including the North Korean nuclear and missile problem. They also live a normal life, daughters are engaged in science, education. "I thought it was important to get it out", Comey testified.

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