Vladimir Putin’s visit to Austria, more Russia-friendly European state, marks the 50th anniversary of the start of Soviet gas deliveries to this country. Despite all the Western sanctions, Russian president noted in his speech on Tuesday that united and prosperous EU is the best option for everyone.
Mr Putin’s visit to Vienna showed the strong ties of Russia with this EU country, which, unlike many other members of EU, didn’t expel Russian diplomats over Skriplas poisoning. Putin’s agenda includes a meeting with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, later, the Russian leader will meet the Austrian business leaders.
Talking about the current EU migrants crisis, Vladimir Putin said,
“The more problems at the heart of the EU, the more risks and problems there are for us,”
“We need to build co-operation with the EU. We don’t have a goal of dividing anything or anyone in the EU.”
EU sanctions and strengthening the economic ties will likely form part of discussions between Putin and Van der Bellen. Austria was the first Western country to import Soviet gas 50 years ago, now a third of Europe’s gas comes from Russia and that amount is growing. Small Austria can offer Russia a lot of business and geopolitical opportunities.
Vienna welcomes President Putin
Traditionally neutral Vienna, which hosts U.N. agencies like the International Atomic Energy Agency, is not a member of NATO. Russian Ambassador Dmitry Lyubinsky recently told the Austria Press Agency that Russia appreciates “Austria’s responsible position on questions of the international agenda.”
Asked ahead of the meeting in Vienna about Russia’s ties to far-right parties, Mr Kurz said Austria would “decide pragmatically whether to co-operate with someone politically”. For Austria, it is time to end the tiresome sanctions and normalize political and economic relations with Russia.