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Russia not declining contacts with Zelensky, says Putin

Zelensky should decide what goals he will be seeking, the Russian leader said

ST. PETERSBURG, June 7./TASS/. Moscow is not dismissing any contacts with Ukraine’s new President Vladimir Zelensky, President Vladimir Putin told a plenary session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, calling Zelensky a good actor.

"We are not disavowing any contacts, we will work [with him]," Putin stressed.

When asked to specify whether he was ready to meet without preconditions, Putin said: "Did I really decline? Nobody has proposed anything," he said.

Zelensky should decide what goals he will be seeking, Putin said. "You see, he still continues with certain rhetoric, calling us ‘enemies’ and ‘aggressors’. He must find out his position as to what he wants to achieve, what he wants to do," Putin added.

"Listen, I don’t know that man. I hope we will make acquaintance someday. From all appearances, he is a good specialist in the domain where he had worked until recently. He is a good actor," the Russian leader went on to say. His remark was met with laughter and applause. "I am speaking seriously, while you are laughing. It is one thing to play the part of somebody, and quite another thing to be somebody. In order to play, one needs talent, this is for sure. And one of these talents is the ability to transform. Every ten minutes you may play different roles - the prince or the pauper. And you must be convincing in any of them, this is really a talent," Putin said.

In order to engage in state affairs, one needs different capacities - certain experience, knowledge, ability to see the problems and find instruments to settle them, ability to shape a team of competent people, giving them a possibility to think freely and come up with solutions. Besides, one should be able to explain the motives behind the decision-making to millions of people, and, which is the most important, to have the courage to take responsibility for the consequences, Putin stressed.

"I am not saying that Mr. Zelensky does not have these skills. Experience may be lacking, but as we say here - that will come with time. Does he have all other abilities that I have listed? It is perfectly possible. But I don’t know this. He has not showed his worth as of yet. And as to what we see at the moment - we see conflicting statements," Putin said.

During the election campaign, Zelensky was saying one thing, while after assuming the presidency he has started doing the opposite. "Let us wait and see. I am not saying that he has spoiled everything with his statements before he has done anything. No. Well, we are going to see," he summed up.

The 2019 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is being held on June 6-8. The forum’s motto this year is "Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda". The organizer for SPIEF-2019 is the Roscongress Foundation. TASS is a media partner, the official photo hosting agency and the operator of SPIEF’s presentation zones with support from multinational firm EY, and the Foreign Investment Advisory Council in Russia.