May 8, 2020 / 11:36 AM / 18 days ago

Putin uses WW2 anniversary for bridge-building with U.S., Britain

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin sent telegrams on Friday to U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, suggesting the need to rekindle their nations’ cooperation during World War Two to solve today’s problems.

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony, which awards constructors of the Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait, in Sevastopol, Crimea March 18, 2020. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERS

Putin’s overture was the latest in a series of contacts with Washington, and Moscow is keen to rebuild relations frayed over issues ranging from election hacking allegations to Syria and Ukraine.

Putin and Trump say they worked closely together to clinch a global oil production cut and spoke by phone on Thursday, when Trump offered to supply Russia with medical equipment to help fight the new coronavirus.

The Kremlin said on Friday that Johnson and Putin had also spoken by phone, congratulating each other on the 75th anniversary of the allied victory in World War Two and expressing a readiness for dialogue and cooperation on bilateral issues.

Ties with London remain badly strained over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England.

“Both sides expressed readiness to establish dialogue and cooperation on issues on the agenda of Russian-British relations, as well as in solving pressing international problems,” the Kremlin said.

The telegrams were among many that Putin dispatched to the Soviet Union’s World War Two allies on the anniversary of the end of the conflict in Europe.

Russia, which marks the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on May 9, the day after “Victory in Europe” Day, has been forced to scale back commemorations due to the coronavirus.

In his message to Trump, Putin said Russia and the United States stood at the forefront of confronting global challenges. “Our countries could do a lot to ensure international security and stability,” he said.

Putin’s message came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart in a phone call which suggested Washington and Moscow remain far apart on some issues.

A statement from the U.S. State Department about the call said Pompeo had condemned “Russia’s intransigence and continued aggressive behaviour” and had spoken of continuing to impose costs on Russia, including sanctions.

Specifically, Washington wants Russia to hand Crimea, a region it annexed in 2014, back to Ukraine, and to fulfil the terms of a peace deal covering eastern Ukraine which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Moscow says Crimea is not up for discussion and that it is Ukraine which is not implementing the peace deal that covers the east of the country.

Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Maxim Rodionov, Alexander Marrow and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Giles Elgood and Mike Colett-White

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