MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Western sanctions have been an important factor in the current economic crisis, but not the only one.

Putin said Thursday the influence of Western sanctions acounts roughly for 25 to 30 percent of factors behind the Russian crisis. He accused the West of trying to infringe on Russia’s sovereignty, adding that the Ukrainian crisis was just a pretext for Western action. He said that the reason for Western action wasn’t Crimea, it was because of efforts to “defend our independence and the right for existence.”

Despite his tough rhetoric, Putin held out hope for normalizing ties with the West, saying that Russia still hopes to expand its gas supplies to southern Europe using a prospective gas hub on Turkey’s border with Greece.


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