The Latest: Putin: Military in Pacific is response to US

ST.PETERSBURG, Russia — The Latest on President Vladimir Putin’s comments Thursday (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says that Russia’s military deployments on a group of Pacific islands also claimed by Japan have been caused by concerns about the U.S. military buildup in the region.

The four islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the southern Kurils in Russia, were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of the World War II, preventing the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of international news agencies Thursday, Putin said the U.S. will likely continue to build up its missile shield in the region even if North Korea agrees to curb its nuclear and missile programs.

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1:10 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin has warned that attempts to contain Russia won’t succeed.

Without naming any particular country, Putin said that Russia has faced attempts to hurt its legitimate interests.

Russia’s relations with the West have been at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis. The U.S. and the EU have slapped Moscow with sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies Thursday, Putin said that economic restrictions against Russia have had “zero effect.”

He predicted that the current strain in relations will ease, because “it’s counterproductive and harmful.”

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1 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says the Russian state has never been involved in hacking.

Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies Thursday, Putin said that some individual “patriotic” hackers could mount some attacks amid the current cold spell in Russia’s relations with the West.

But he categorically insisted that “we don’t engage in that at the state level.”

Putin also said that “no hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia or America.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping President Donald Trump’s election victory.

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