NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, March 5 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he did not want political tension to detract from economic cooperation with Russia’s “traditional partners”, signalling he hopes to avoid spillover from a bitter dispute with the West over Ukraine.
“We are seeing known political tension, it should not affect our current economic cooperation,” Putin told cabinet members.
“It’s not necessary to add to the difficult situation, we need to cooperate with all our traditional partners - while providing for our own interests, of course,” he said.
“It is not necessary to whip things up and place political considerations on top of issues of economic cooperation.”
The United States and European Union are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over what they say is its military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimea region and Putin’s threat to send the armed forces into Ukraine if he deems it necessary.
Putin said on Tuesday he would only use the military in Ukraine as a last resort to protect Russian speakers there, but he made no indication Russia would relax its levers of control over Crimea.