Vladimir Putin says Russian Federation does not want to split the European Union

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Russian troops will remain in Syria as long as Moscow thinks it's necessary, but Russia isn't building permanent facilities in the only Middle East country where it has a military foothold, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday in his annual marathon call-in show.

Putin said he was up-to-speed with the situation with the move to ban Telegram and added: "We are not going to close anything".

Putin didn't elaborate under what circumstances Russian Federation could leave or on Moscow's broader strategy for Syria. He suggested the stadiums could add cafes and shopping malls to boost their profitability once the competition is over.

"I do not comment on speculation", he said.

Regional officials have estimated annual maintenance costs of the various World Cup stadiums at 200 million to 400 million rubles ($3.2 million to $6.4 million) each.

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.

As for the exploration of more distant space, Putin said that Russian Federation plans to test a new super-heavy rocket in an unmanned mode in 2022 and launch it with astronauts on board in 2024.

"Did they annex Crimea?"

China: Tariffs by US would wipe out trade progress
President Donald Trump later ordered his top trade negotiator to seek up to an additional $100 billion in Chinese products to tax. Bruno Le Maire, France's finance and financial system minister, additionally known as the US tariffs unjustified.

It came in for criticism from its allies for being among the minority of European Union member countries that did not expel any Russian diplomats over the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

Mr Putin also said the government will be looking to streamline the tax system in order to fight poverty, but denied speculation that Russian Federation was considering abandoning its flat-rate income tax.

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 now stands at over 20 million people.

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

But he said that Pyongyang will demand "absolute security guarantees" if the United States sticks with its demand that Kim must totally abandon nuclear weapons to obtain relief from sanctions.

Putin will meet liberal President Alexander Van der Bellen as well as Kurz, a 31-year-old conservative who became chancellor in December at the head of a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

Austria was the first western European country to sign a gas delivery agreement with the Soviet Union, on June 1, 1968, and Putin's visit this week coincides with that anniversary.

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