MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Japan’s sanctions on Russia are undermining confidence between the two countries.
Speaking at a forum in the southern Russian city of Sochi, Putin said he does not believe that the sanctions are a step that enhances confidence.
In 2014, Japan joined the United States and the European Union in imposing sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea.
Putin also expressed skepticism about Japan’s insistence that Tokyo and Moscow first resolve their territorial dispute before signing a peace treaty.
At an economic forum in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok in September, in which Abe took part, Putin proposed Tokyo and Moscow sign a peace treaty by the end of this year without any conditions.
Putin told Thursday’s forum that immediately after he made the proposal, he and Abe discussed it while watching a judo tournament and that the Japanese leader called the approach unacceptable.
Abe told Putin at the time that the two countries need first to resolve fundamental issues related to territory and then talk about a peace treaty, according to the Russian leader.
Putin said Abe’s approach is also a possibility, but that the two countries have made no headway for 70 years and there is no end in sight.
Abe and Putin are scheduled to meet twice later this year.
The territorial dispute involves four Northwestern Pacific islands held by Russia and claimed by Japan. The islands were seized from Japan by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II. The dispute is preventing Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.