Ukraine Crisis: Putin Rejects Fears of 'New Cold War'

Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed fears of a "new Cold War" in the making on the Ukraine issue and said it was "impossible" for anyone to isolate his country.

Putin also dismissed claims by US President Barack Obama that he was trying to re-create the old Soviet empire.

"I would not want to think that this is the beginning of a new Cold War, that is in no one's interests, and I don't think this will happen," Putin said.

The 61-year-old Russian strongman said such claims were part of an "information war" against Russia.

"They are trying to hang this label on us - that we intend to restore the empire, the Soviet Union, to bring everyone under our influence. This is absolutely untrue," Putin said.

The president said both the US and Russia have a number of tools of "friendly communications" to arrive at a solution.

"We have a number of tools of friendly communications with the US and if these tools are used properly, a solution can be formed," he told a select group of journalists from international media on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Asked by a journalist if Russia will be isolated by some political measures aimed at Moscow, he said he has been maintaining that all his actions were in the interests of the people of his country.

He termed sanctions against Russia as "counterproductive" and insisted his country would not be excluded from the international economy.

"As far as isolations are concerned, we believe we are right legally and I have explained my position.

"I think isolation of Russia is immaterial and impossible," he said.

The US and EU have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes, over its annexation of Crimea - an autonomous peninsula within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority - in March and alleged support for pro-Russian rebels who have seized control of parts of eastern Ukraine.

"I believe we can do a lot of damage to the world economy but who needs the damage if some crazy measures are taken. But the fact is that the crazy measures are not legal," Putin said.

He added that wide-ranging sanctions "would be negative for everyone and would bring such turbulence to the European, Russian and global economies that it is clear that nobody is interested in this."

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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