Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the U.S. was not an enemy of his country, saying his country had “many friends” in America.

“We have been through two wars together,” he said during his annual nationwide televised call-in show. “The Russian Empire was key in securing U.S. independence.”

Putin added: “I know the mood of our people, we don’t believe America is our enemy … There is hysteria in the media and it affects the mood, but many people in Russia admire the achievements if the American people, and I hope relations will normalize.”

The famously private leader also addressed his personal life, saying that his two daughters and two grandchildren reside in Russia.

“Despite all rumors, my daughters live here, in Moscow,” he said.

“My grandchildren are in preschool,” he adding, stating that he wanted to keep their identities and ages a secret. “I want them to be normal people, and for that they need to mix with ordinary people. But if I mention their names, they will not be left in peace. This will damage them. Please understand me.”

In 2013, Putin announced that he was divorcing his wife with whom he has two daughters in their 30s. His children have not been seen in public for years.

Putin also blamed domestic U.S. problems for sanctions imposed on Russia.

“We have always lived under sanctions, whenever Russia grew stronger there would always be sanctions, throughout history,” he said. “There is a U.S. bill to toughen sanctions — why? Nothing has changed why are they talking about sanctions — it’s evidence of domestic political problems in the U.S.”

On Monday, the U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on a new round of sanctions against Russia, a move that will force President Donald Trump to either sign or veto the measure.

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SOURCE: NBC News, F. Brinley Bruton

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