Russia is not interested in sowing divisions between member states of the European Union. On the contrary, Moscow is interested in a prosperous and united Europe, Russian president Putin said in an interview with broadcaster ORF during a visit to Austria.
“It is not our aim to divide anything or anybody in Europe. On the contrary, we want to see a united and prosperous European Union, because the European Union is our biggest trade and economic partner. The more problems there are within the European Union, the greater the risks and uncertainties for us.
We keep 40 percent of our gold and currency reserves in the euro. Why should we shake up all of this, including the single European currency as a derivative of the rocking of the Union? I would like people in Austria and in the other European Union countries to put this idea out of their minds.”
Putin’s last bilateral visit to a western European country was in Finland in july last year. One of the goals of his visit to Austria marks the 50 year anniversary of the deal to deliver Russian gas to Austria. During this meeting, both countries will talk about how to improve trade between both countries.
The new government in Austria under the leadership of Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz (31) wants to build a bridge between Europe and Russia and want sto achieve better trade relations between the two economic blocs. Austria was also one of the few European countries that decided not to expel Russian diplomats in response to the Skripal case.
Developments in Ukraine had a strong negative impact on the relationship between Europe and Russia and marked the beginning of a period of reciprocal economic sanctions, which are still in force to this day. It should be noted that the supply of natural gas from Russia has continued without restrictions.
During this meeting, the two countries will discuss economic relations and sanctions. Austria takes over the rotating EU presidency in July for a period of six months. It is likely that the Austrian government led by Kurz will take this opportunity to renegotiate economic sanctions with European counterparts once again.
Below is the complete interview of Putin with the Austrian channel ORF (in German).