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ST. PETERSBURG, June 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would be prepared to lift its counter-sanctions from the West, if it were certain it would not be cheated.
"We would be prepared for such steps (being the first to lift the sanctions), if we were certain that we would not be cheated once again. We wish to be certain that Russia’s unilateral moves will entail reciprocal moves that won’t eventually prove what a Russian classic once described as ‘a step forward, two steps backwards’," Putin told a news conference following talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that Russia as a stronger country might be the first to lift its countersanctions from the West. Asked for a comment, Putin replied: "People and countries can be characterized differently - some are strong and others are not very strong, some are clever and others are not so clever. Also, there are cunning ones… Mr. Sarkozy certainly has a friendly attitude to our country and one can say that he is an advocate of restoring Russia-EU relations."
"I believe that his idea does have a positive side to it that is worth taking note of," Putin said.
"It is hard to say for now who will be able to persuade us that our partners are inclined to do this (lift sanctions). I believe that words of persuasion should be addressed not to us, but to the partners in Kiev to make them comply with the obvious pledges they had assumed under the Minsk Accords," Putin said.