Vladimir Putin Says He Will Step Down as Russia's President in 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the U.S. for what he called its abuse of sanctions, saying the increasingly "restrictive instruments" being imposed on a growing number of countries is pushing the global economy toward an unprecedented crisis.

Putin made the remarks during an economic forum in St. Petersburg that was also broadcast on state TV.

But observers said Putin remained the most powerful man in the country.

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The Russian leader also engaged in a tongue-in-cheek exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying with a smile that Russia could help protect Europe if its rift with the USA widens over Iran.

"In order to talk about a full denuclearization of North Korea, I believe we should give North Korea a guarantee of their sovereignty and inviolability", the Russian president said.

Putin said he was all for Spanish integrity. Speaking at the panel, Putin again denied any meddling in the US election in 2016. But he said Macron's smearing in the Russian state media during his election campaign, and suspicions about Kremlin interference in Western democracies, had left a legacy of mistrust. Macron responded on a serious note that France and its allies could stand for themselves.

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The Russian leader pointed to the presence of large numbers of foreign executives at the event as evidence that the USA sanctions were failing to achieve their aim.

A senior US official says the North Koreans stood up an American delegation last week seeking to make arrangements for the summit and did not return messages from the USA seeking to discuss the meeting.

Noting that Russian Federation increased export of engineering products to the Chinese market a year ago, Mr. Putin hailed the diversification and improvement in the trade structure as "encouraging". However, some observers have suggested he might seek to have the constitution changed.

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Global trade rules "should be clear and the same for all", Putin said.

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