UPDATE 2-Putin defiant over economy, Ukraine in annual phone-in

April 16, 2015 3:55 PM

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MOSCOW, April 16 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin tried to reassure Russians over the ailing economy and said Washington wanted "vassals" rather than allies in his annual phone-in on Thursday, but offered no new financial remedies and gave no ground over Ukraine.

For nearly four hours, the Russian leader fielded mostly tame questions from across the country on problems ranging from Iran's disputed nuclear programme and the conflict in east Ukraine to the price of milk and the state of roads.

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