The Russian President said he defends, even envies, NSA surveillance, denies decision to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. Moscow made providing refuge to Snowden conditional on his halting what he called anti-American activities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said maintaining close links with Ukraine is vital for Russian national interests.
“We just want to defend our gates,” he told journalists in Moscow, days after Russia gave Ukraine a $15bn bailout and gas discount, the BBC informs. Ukraine, he said, was a fraternal state with close industrial ties to Russia.
Protests have gripped much of Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovych suspended the EU deal last month.
The opposition has been demanding to know what, if any, conditions the Kremlin attached to its decision to buy $15bn in Ukrainian government bonds and slash the gas price from more than $400 per 1,000 cubic metres to $268.5.
Russia’s financial help averted a debt crisis for Ukraine in the short term.
At a news conference in Kiev on Thursday, Mr Yanukovych said the deal with Moscow did not run counter to Ukraine’s course towards European integration.
Mr Putin is known for his marathon, tough-talking annual news conferences, which can run past four hours.
On other issues addressed on Thursday, he denied any decision had been taken yet to deploy nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in Russia’s westernmost region, Kaliningrad, which borders the EU, despite earlier reports.
The Russsian President denied that Russia was controlling Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency contractor granted asylum in Russia after leaking details of its work, and joked that espionage was “one of the oldest professions… of which there are few”.
According to cbsnews.com President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the National Security Agency surveillance is necessary to fight terrorism, but added that the government needs to “limit the appetite” of the agency with a clear set of ground rules.