Russian President Vladimir Putin said he "fully" agrees with President Donald Trump on the treat of a new arms race with the USA - and denied that the oligarch known as "Putin's chef" could have influenced the 2016 elections.
Speaking to Austrian television channel ORF ahead of a visit to Vienna on Tuesday, Putin said he "fully agreed" with Trump that a new arms race could break out between the countries - but hoped they could prevent that, CNN reported.
Coupled with a drop in oil prices, the sanctions contributed to Russia's two-year recession.
Putin did not have much to say on the specific allegations that a Russian missile was responsible for the downing of the plane, except to cast doubt on the global investigation and say that Ukraine shot down a passenger plane by mistake in 2001.
Putin said Russia's offer to develop joint railway and gas pipeline projects involving both Koreas would help stability in the region.
He then had meetings with conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, whose nationalist Freedom Party entered the government in December as the junior coalition partner. Austria will exert efforts to establish good relations between the EU and Russian Federation during its presidency in the European Council starting July 2018, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stated on Wednesday in Brussels, during the presentation of Vienna's work agenda for the duration of its presidency to the European Commission, the Austria Press Agency informs.
Prior to his visit, Putin had stressed the importance of improving ties with Austria and the EU.
"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. For his part, Van der Bellen underscored Austria's traditional desire "to defuse tensions" adding, "Russia is clearly a part of Europe and not something external".
Unlike many other European Union countries, Austria didn't expel Russian diplomats over the nerve agent poisoning in Britain earlier this year of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. "We need to build cooperation with the European Union".
Putin's sixth official visit to traditionally neutral Austria marks the 50th anniversary of the start of Soviet gas deliveries to the country.
"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.
The pipeline project has become a deeply divisive issue in Europe since it deliberately skirts eastern nations like Poland and Ukraine.