Vladimir Putin says ready to meet new Ukraine President, taunts US
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is ready to meet Ukraine`s new President at this week`s D-Day commemorations in France.
Paris: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is ready to meet Ukraine`s new President at this week`s D-Day commemorations in France.
In an interview with French television station TF1 and radio Europe1 aired here on Wednesday, the Russian leader also delivered a withering attack on US attempts to isolate his country over the Ukraine crisis.
Asked if he would meet and shake hands with Ukraine`s president-elect Petro Poroshenko in Normandy on Friday if that could be organised, Putin replied: "I don`t plan to avoid anyone."
He added: "There will be other guests, and I`m not going to avoid any of them. I will talk with all of them."
Putin also issued a scathing dismissal of US claims that they have evidence of Russian military interference in Ukraine.
"Proof? Let`s see it!" he said. "The entire world remembers the US secretary of state demonstrating the evidence of Iraq`s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council.
"Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Asked if he thought US officials were lying, Putin replied: "There are no armed forces, no `Russian instructors` in Ukraine -- and there never were any."
Putin is to meet with the leaders of Britain, France and Germany in France on Thursday or Friday, but US President Barack Obama has declined to offer him a formal meeting.
The Russian strongman said he could not understand that stance, but insisted he was open to a meeting with his American counterpart.
"It is his choice, I am ready for dialogue," Putin said.
He also accused the United States of hypocrisy in its "aggressive" attempts to punish Russia over Ukraine.
"We have almost no military forces abroad, yet look: everywhere in the world there are American military bases, American troops thousands of kilometres from their borders.”
"They interfere in the interior affairs of this or that country, so it is difficult to accuse us of abuses."