ST. PETERSBURG, June 6. /TASS/. Moscow is ready to respond in kind if the European Union starts lifting sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the heads of the world’s leading news outlets on Thursday.
"If it happens, we will certainly welcome it. We will take steps to meet the other party halfway," he said. "It particularly concerns the lifting of restrictions that Russia was forced to impose in response to the European Union’s sanctions," Putin added.
At the same time, he pointed out that "nothing like this is happening." "I think the European Commission has recently decided to extend sanctions on Russia for another year, if I remember right," Putin said. "You see, nothing has changed. The elections have come and gone but nothing is changing as far as real politics is concerned," he noted.
According to Putin, Moscow is keeping an eye on the situation in the hope that something will change. "If it starts to change, we will immediately respond, we will respond by lifting our retaliatory economic restrictions," the Russian president emphasized.
"We have a lot of common interests, so let’s do everything together. We are ready for it. We will wait to see if there are any practical changes in Europe’s policy towards Russia," he said.
In this regard, Putin mentioned security issues, the fight against terrorism, environment protection and other humanitarian matters. "It is a well-known fact that Russia is an integral part of the European cultural landscape. Our literature, music and theater are part of European culture," he went on to say. "I hope that contacts will continue," Putin pointed out, adding that Russia maintained cooperation with many European countries in those areas.
Putin said that Russia was one of the few countries "that take practical steps aimed at preserving the environment without any political chatter." The president stressed that Moscow continued efforts to reduce human impact on the environment.