Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an annual call-in show in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 20, 2019. Putin hosts call-in shows every year, which typically provide a platform for ordinary Russians to appeal to the president on issues ranging from foreign policy to housing and utilities. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Latest: Putin won't budge to win sanctions respite

June 20, 2019 - 6:49 am

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Putin's annual call-in show (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will not compromise on its core interests to win a respite from Western sanctions.

Putin admitted that the U.S. and the European Union sanctions have cost Russia an estimated $50 billion since 2014, but he claimed that the EU nations have suffered even greater damage due to the restrictions.

Speaking during Thursday's live call-in show, the Russian leader said that the sanctions have encouraged Russia to launch its own production of ship engines and other key industrial products and develop its agricultural sector.

He said Russia's agricultural exports topped $25 billion last year and will keep growing.

Putin charged that the Western sanctions represent an attempt to curb Russia's growing power, adding that the U.S. trade restrictions against China serve a similar purpose.


12:35 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin is promising to boost spending on social programs as part of the government's modernization efforts.

Speaking in an annual live call-in show Thursday, Putin faced an array of complaints about low wages and pensions. Putin responded by spelling out plans to boost salaries for public sector workers.

More than 1.5 million people have sent their questions by phone, video calls or internet.

For the people across the vast country, the tightly-choreographed show provides a rare opportunity to take their grievances to the very top. The call-in is dominated by complaints about low wages, potholed roads, decrepit schools, overfilled hospitals and other social issues.

Putin noted that Russia has been hurt by a drop in energy prices and international sanctions, but added that the economy has improved.

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