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Putin clarifies Russia-China military ties, deplores possible U.S. sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined on Thursday that his country's military cooperation with China would bring balance to the world.
Meanwhile, he denounced the investigations into the alleged Russian influence in the United States. presidential election as well as the possible U.S. sanctions on Russia as an effort to sacrifice bilateral relations.
Putin made the remarks at a press conference in Punkaharju, a resort in Savonlinna, eastern Finland after holding a lengthy talk with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto.
Putin travelled to the picturesque border city by helicopter at midday to observe the centenary of Finnish independence. The working visit coincided with the Russia-China naval exercise on the Baltic Sea.
The joint drill kicked off in the past weekend, and Chinese navy has sent a fleet of three vessels and some helicopters and marines to take part.
Rules Out Military Bloc
Assuring the media, Putin said that the military cooperation between Russia and China is not directed against anyone, and is not meant to start to form new military blocs.
For his part, Niinisto said it was not the first exercise between China and Russia, nor the first time for Chinese vessels to come to Europe, adding that Chinese navy has been in the Mediterranean before.
"Also Finland takes part in exercises in the Baltic, such as upcoming Aurora with Sweden and the U.S.," said Niinisto. "Aurora is not intended to form blocks as well."
As part of the annual military cooperation program, the drill codenamed "Joint Sea 2017" aims to jointly carry out rescue missions and protect the safety of maritime economic activities.
The regular joint exercises have become an annual program, as Putin emphasized that the two countries have strategic cooperation in the fields of economy, politics and military.
Deplores U.S. Investigations
As for the investigations into the so-called Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election, Putin said the effort was to create anti-Russian hysteria. He claimed that the investigations were not real investigations, as they lack a full study of the situation.
He noted that the election of a U.S. president has nothing to do with Russia, and it is not Russia's business to evaluate what the U.S. president does.
The Russian president criticized the U.S. practice as an effort to "make U.S. legislation valid in other countries", and said Russian-U.S. relations were being sacrificed to U.S. domestic issues.
But Putin stopped short of defining what possible counter measures Russia would adopt if the United States would impose new sanctions against Russia. Putin said he would first see what the final outcome of the sanctions would be.
Niinisto warned that any new sanctions would affect other countries and therefore there are talks within the European Union.
Local analysts noted possible new U.S. sanctions against Russia could affect the expansion of the Baltic gas pipelines known as Nordstream 2.
Appreciates Baltic Neutral Countries
Putin also expressed his appreciation of the roles of the "neutral" countries along the shores of the Baltic.
There are six NATO countries in the Baltic region, whereas Finland and Sweden are not affiliated with the military alliance.
Long-time Finnish MP Ilkka Kanerva, chairman of the parliamentary defence committee, said that Putin again expressed between the lines that he does not want Finland or Sweden to join NATO.
"When Putin mentioned 'neutral countries in the Baltic sphere' and 'Finnish independent foreign policy', he sent the message he does not want to see all of the Baltic basin as members of NATO."
Markku Kivinen, the director of the Aleksanteri Institute of Helsinki University, said Putin sent a tacit message to Finland to act independently in the European Union.
Interviewed by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Kivinen referred to Putin's appreciation of Finland for its "independent foreign policy".
[Source: Xinhua, Savonlinna, Fin, 27Jul17]
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