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CNB News – Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of trying to hold back Russia’s economic development ahead of what is expected to be a tense summit with President Biden later this month.

“We have no disagreements with the United States, we have only one disagreement: Their desire to hold back our development,” Putin said Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “We should try to find ways to settle Russian-U.S. relations.”

Putin went on to pan U.S. sanctions on Russia as “a mystery” and said that domestic politics in Washington are steering the relationship between the two powers.

Still, he expressed confidence that the two countries could work together, citing their shared interests in “strategic stability and the reduction of weapons dangerous for the whole world.”

The comments come ahead of a summit with Biden in Geneva on June 16, during which a slew of topics is expected to be discussed, including climate change, election interference, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and more.

The White House has also said that Biden will advocate on behalf of Ukraine, Russia’s neighbour, amid concerns that recent military manoeuvres by Moscow previewed an invasion. The administration has also ramped up pressure on Russia over its harbouring of criminal groups that have launched devastating hacks on meatpacker JBS and Colonial Pipeline.

Biden has adopted a stern tone with Russia since taking office, slapping sanctions on Moscow over interference in U.S. elections, cyberattacks and the poisoning and detention of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Putin’s comment about the U.S.’s alleged hinderance of Russian development comes as he looks to reverse an economic backslide in Russia as the coronavirus raged in 2020. Russia’s economy shrunk by 3 percent last year, leading to a flood of business closures.

Putin is also looking to maintain support heading into parliamentary elections slated for September.

 

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