Russia’s Vladimir Putin: Liberalism is obsolete

Britain's prime minister Theresa May told Mr Putin that Russia must end its "destabilising" activities

epa07679629 British Prime Minister Theresa May (2-L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, 28 June 2019.  EPA/MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said liberalism is “obsolete” in an interview ahead of talks with Britain’s prime minister Theresa May at the G20 summit.

Mr Putin, who has been at the heart of Russian politics since 2000, said the ideology was outdated and was at odds with “the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population”.

"[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone," he told the Financial Times.

He went on to criticise German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of allowing refugees to settle in Germany.

Mr Putin also told the British newspaper that he hoped to repair diplomatic relations at the meeting with Mrs May on Friday after the attack on a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury last year.

The president, who has consistently denied Russian involvement in the incident, said the nerve agent poisonings were a matter for intelligence agencies.

"All this fuss about spies and counterspies, it is not worth serious interstate relations," he said.

"This spy story, as we say, it is not worth five kopeks. Or even five pounds, for that matter.

Former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left in a critical condition in hospital after coming into contact with the Russian nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury in March 2018.

While Dawn Sturgess, a resident of nearby Amesbury, died after her and her partner Charlie Rowley came into contact with the same nerve agent just three months later.

Mrs May told Mr Putin during their meeting that normal relations between Moscow and London could not be restored until Russia ended its “irresponsible and destabilising” activity, according to a Downing Street statement.

"The prime minister said that the use of a deadly nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury formed part of a wider pattern of unacceptable behaviour and was a truly despicable act that led to the death of a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess," the statement said.

"(She) underlined that we remain open to a different relationship, but for that to happen the Russian government must choose a different path."

The last time Mrs May and Mr Putin met was in November, when the Russian president approached her at the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina.