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U.S.-Russia’s Icy Relations Are ‘Not Our Fault,’ Putin Says

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Moscow is not to blame for its frosty relations with the United States and other Western nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

“Our relations are, regretfully, in a pretty frozen state, and I think it's not our fault,” Putin said when asked how he envisions ties with the U.S. in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

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The West ignored Russia when the former superpower reached out to it after the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin said, speaking at the 2nd Eastern Economic Forum, an annual business gathering in the city of Vladivostok in the Far East.

Image: Eastern Economic Forum 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept. 3, 2016. YURI KOCHETKOV / EPA

“We expected that this openness will have a similar reaction from our partners. But ... they've gazed into the magic crystal of national interests and understood it their way — now that the Soviet Union has fallen apart, we need to finish Russia off,” Putin said.

“If this logic will persist, I don't expect any thawing. But if our partners will agree with a different logic, one of considering mutual interests, of respecting each other's interests, then our relations will change, too,” Putin said.

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He went further with his rhetoric, suggesting that neither is Russia to blame for its annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014, shortly after a pro-Russian president was ousted in a revolution.

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The annexation, which took place after a referendum held with Russian troops in the streets, was followed by a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine. Washington officials said Russia fostered and supported the uprising, a claim Moscow denies.

“The Ukrainian crisis wasn't our fault. It wasn't us who supported the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine,” Putin said, apparently referring to the U.S. endorsement of the 2014 revolution.

The coup prompted both the uprising and Crimea's voluntary crossover to Russia, Putin added.