The Latest: Putin describes US steel tariffs as ‘sanctions’

The Latest: Putin describes US steel tariffs as 'sanctions'
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in television show (all times local):

2:00 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has characterized new U.S. steel tariffs against its long-term allies as unjustified sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump enraged Canada and other American allies last week by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and threatening to do the same with imported cars and trucks.

Speaking Thursday about the move, Putin described the tariffs as “sanctions,” saying that countries which have imposed restrictions on Russia for the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula are now going to see what they feel like on their own skin.

“Did they annex Crimea?” Putin asked during his annual phone-in show, referring to Canada and Mexico.

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1:40 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not think that an ex-Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, because they survived the attack.

British authorities blamed Russia for the March poisoning in the English city of Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a Soviet-designed nerve agent dubbed Novichok. The Skripals were in critical condition for weeks before recovering.

Asked about the poisoning during his annual call-in show on Thursday, Putin said he does not want to comment on the cause of their illness and said Russia is still seeking consular access to both of them and to their case files.

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12:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the government will be looking to streamline the tax system in order to fight poverty.

Putin said on his annual call-in show on Thursday that one of the goals of his presidency is to halve the number of Russians living below the poverty line, which currently stands at over 20 million people. The government will need 8 trillion rubles ($129 billion) on measures to lift people out of poverty, Putin said.

Responding to speculation that authorities might be looking to scrap the flat income tax, Putin said his government has decided that this is “not expedient” at this point. Putin said the funds will have to come from streamlining the tax system but stopped short of saying whether that means actual tax hikes.

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12:20 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says he’s confident of Russia’s long-term economic growth.

Speaking at the opening of his annual call-in television show, Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s gross domestic product is currently 1.5 percent higher than a year ago. He described it as modest but said he is confident that future “growth is guaranteed.”

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.

This is Putin’s first live televised show since he was re-elected in March for a term of office that runs until 2024.

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