President Vladimir Putin may have been excluded from the G7 but he is still making his presence felt.
He has given an interview to French journalists which was recorded in Sochi – the venue where the G8 should have been before the Ukraine crisis.
Various issues were covered including Syria, sanctions and relations with Europe. But it was Ukraine which was the main topic of conversation.
He was asked for his response to US claims of having proof that Russia was trying to destabilise its neighbour.
“If they have proof they have to show it. Everybody has seen the US Secretary of State showing at the UN Security Council the proof of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. He showed then a tube with a substance that could well have been washing powder. To say something is one thing, to provide proof is another,” answered Putin.
Despite Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the condemnation of the Kyiv government Putin did not rule out meeting Ukraine’s president-elect (Petro Poroshenko) when he attends the D-Day commemorations.
“I think that Mr. Poroshenko has a unique opportunity,” Putin said. “His hands are still clean, he can still stop this reprisal operation and start a direct dialogue with the citizens of the East of his own country.”