In Austria, Putin calls for lifting sanctions, Kurz sticks by European Union position

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The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said diplomatic progress in eastern Ukraine, following by a "gradual easing of sanctions", imposed in the wake of Russian Federation annexation of Crimea in 2014, was "the scenario that we are wishing for".

Speaking to Austria's ORF channel ahead of a visit to Vienna on Wednesday, Mr Putin said he "fully agreed" with the US President on the possibility that a new arms race between the countries could break out, and hoped the two leaders could work together to prevent it.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, shakes hand with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has friends in high places, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he will host in Vienna today.

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"If we combine it with an earlier joke about Russian Federation allegedly influencing U.S. elections, it all sounds pretty amusing", he said. "I believe that this is an erroneous policy, because one should not try and contain anyone, including Russian Federation, but foster cooperation, which would produce a beneficial effect for the global economy", he said.

Mr Van der Bellen said: "Austria has always strived to contribute to reducing tensions and we will do so now and in the future".

"Everybody has an interest in getting the sanctions lifted, us too", Putin said.

This follows a remark from the Dean of the state-run university in Moscow that came out this week citing the "American God" and US voters in the fate of the European Union.

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TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood weighs in on Putin's visit to Austria.

The Russian leader will meet government and business leaders in Austria on a visit which formally marks 50 years since the two countries' energy firms Gazprom and OMV first signed a gas supply deal. It's no coincidence that Austria, unlike virtually all the other European Union member states, decided not to expel Russian diplomats after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.

"We will continue our efforts to uphold communication channels with Russian Federation, despite the necessary response to its actions, and take steps toward each other", Kurz stated. Austria will take over the EU's rotating six-month presidency in July.

"Under such circumstances, it makes little sense - viewed from a purely economic point of view - to replace Russian gas with American liquefied gas", he told reporters. Polish President Andrzej Duda said at a joint news conference with Frank-Walter Steinmeier that he believes Nord Stream 2 would undermine the security of central and eastern Europe.

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The pipeline project has become a deeply divisive issue in Europe since it deliberately skirts eastern nations like Poland and Ukraine.