Relations with China? Partnership, trust and... a crate of ice-cream – Putin’s interview top quotes
The two countries have a lot in common, Putin told with the China Media Group. They share a common history, enjoy long-time friendly relations and have similar goals, striving for even closer cooperation. Apart from that, the essence of Russia and China's national characters are also similar, Putin believes.
‘Russia & China have to be sovereign’
“I believe that either Russia will be sovereign, or there will be no Russia at all. And, of course, the Russian people will always opt for the first. I think the Chinese people will too. We have no other option,” Putin said, stating that no sanctions or foreign pressure would force them to abandon their independent course.
Closely following the policies of some other country and lacking one’s own has not proven to be fruitful for others, he believes. “Those who followed the US lead, they themselves are beginning to suffer from what the United States is implementing with regards to these countries,” Putin said, without giving any concrete examples.
As for the two powers’ ambitions, Russia and China strive for close cooperation for the whole of Eurasia and beyond, Putin said, adding that China’s One Belt, One Road initiative “matches our efforts to build the Eurasian Economic Union.”
Putin & Xi: partners & friends
“He is a very accessible and a very sincere person. But at the same time a very reliable partner. One can be sure that if we negotiate something with President Xi Jinping, then I, for my part, and I know that he for his part, we always strive to fulfill our obligations,” Putin said.
The two leaders have much in common, as both of them strive to work for the benefit of every person in their countries, Putin said. Apart from that, Xi Jinping is actually the only leader that Putin ever spent his birthday with.
“I think Chairman Xi Jinping is the only one among all the world leaders, to have celebrated my birthday with me,” Putin said, referring to his 61st birthday, which he marked at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bali back in 2013. “I won’t hide it, we had a shot of vodka, sliced some sausage.”
The two leaders have exchanged gifts from time to time. Back in 2016, Putin brought his Chinese counterpart a crate of Russian ice-cream, which Xi Jinping once mentioned that he really enjoyed. Russia’s leader refused to say what he would give Xi Jinping this year, however. “It won’t’ be a surprise if I’d tell you already what it will be,” Putin said.
On Trump’s talks with Kim: ‘courageous & mature’
US President Donald Trump's decision to engage in direct talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un was a “very courageous and mature” one, Putin said. Pyongyang has also contributed greatly to easing the tensions, taking “unprecedented steps towards easing tensions [on the peninsula] which were, to tell the truth, unexpected for me,” Putin said, referring to North Korea's decision to close and demolish its nuclear test site.
Russia, however, “regrets” that the US and its regional allies carried on with their military activities around the Korean Peninsula, as it could potentially damage the looming prospects for dialogue.
Given such activities and the bitter experience of other countries, it’s natural that Pyongyang demands security guarantees. “How else? After tragic events in Libya or Iraq, they, the North Koreans, see the picture [of these events] right in front of them,” Putin stated.
World Cup & presidential workout
Russia’s leader named his favorite picks for the upcoming 2018 World Cup, stating that either Argentina or Brazil would likely get the trophy. Germany and Spain also have a chance of winning the tournament, the president believes. The Russian team is not among the favorites, Putin admitted.
“As for the Russian national football team, unfortunately, I have to admit that our players haven’t had great results in recent times,” Putin said. “But we are pinning our hopes on them, all the Russian fans hope that the players will put in a decent performance.”
Putin, who is well known for his healthy way of life, revealed he spends some two hours a day doing sports. “I work out at the gym, I swim, sometimes I hit the tatami if there's a sparring partner, and, not as often as I'd like to, I play hockey,” Putin said, admitting though that his hockey skills definitely have room for improvement.
Putin’s alternative career?
Most know Putin as a powerful world leader, but he says he had other career options as well. For one, he mentioned his service as an intelligence officer, but he also graduated as a lawyer, so that might have been his profession had he not immersed himself in politics.
“I used to work in Soviet intelligence... I already have a profession. But I graduated from the St. Petersburg University, the law faculty, so I could, in principle, work as a lawyer or attorney," Putin said.
As for a rainy day, Putin recently revealed that he even weighed becoming a taxi driver during turbulent 1990s – his love of driving is obvious from such events as the opening of the Crimean bridge in May.
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