Putin addresses election meddling, possibility of third world war

June 7 (UPI) — In a televised question-and-answer session Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the fear of mutually assured destruction would prevent global conflict.

The president, who received around 2 million questions by telephone, text, email and social media, addressed Russians during the three-hour televised event — discussing everything from the meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to a potential third world war.

Putin said awareness that a third world war would be the “end of today’s civilization as we know it” would be enough to prevent “radical and dangerous global actions.”

“We are living in the conditions of relative global peace after World War II … Regional wars constantly flare up here and there. But there have been no global conflicts,” Putin said.

“No matter how unpleasant this may sound what I will say but this is true: the fear of mutual destruction has always restrained the participants in the international communication and the leading military powers from sharp movements and forced them to respect each other.”

When asked about accusations of Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which U.S. intelligence agencies have determined to be true, Putin dismissed the allegations as a “joke.”

“We have allegedly meddled with the presidential election in the U.S. and [President Donald] Trump as a thank you has presented us with Europe,” Putin said. “This is a complete nonsense. One can’t call this anything else but a joke.”

The Russian president said the West’s sanctions against Russia served as a “means of containing” his country.

“They see Russia as a threat,” Putin said. “They see Russia become their competitor.”

Putin addressed the March 4 nerve agent attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in Britain.

Britain and other Western countries have blamed Russia for the attack, finding that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Putin denied Russia’s involvement.

“If a military agent would have been used against these people, these people would die on the spot within seconds or minutes,” the president said. “Fortunately that did not happen. That means we are dealing with something different.”

The event marked Putin’s 11th time answering questions as president.