Putin: ‘We want to see a united and prosperous European Union’

6 June 2018

Putin: ‘We want to see a united and prosperous European Union’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a rare interview with Western media that a “united and prosperous European Union” is in Russia’s interests because of the trade and economic ties between the two.

Speaking to Austria’s ORF broadcaster, Mr Putin said, “We do not pursue the objective of dividing anything or anyone in the EU. We are far more interested in the EU being united and flourishing, because the EU is our most important trading and economic partner.”

The President is currently on a state visit to Austria, to mark 50 years since the signing of the first gas supply deal between the two countries’ energy firms, Gazprom and OMV.

Read some of the key quotes from the interview below.

Translation by the Moscow Times and OPMG.

On democracy in Russia

“There is no doubt that democracy has taken root in Russia. It is in our interests that the country follows a democratic path of development and it will.”

On Europe

“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.”

On alleged election interference by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurateur close to Putin, the alleged brain behind the pro-Kremlin ‘troll factory’

“Could it be that the media and political standards of Western countries have fallen to such low levels that a Russian restaurant owner can sway voters in a European country or the United States? Isn’t that ridiculous?”

“Do you really think that a person who is in the restaurant business, even if this person has some hacking capabilities… could use them to sway elections in the United States or a European country?”

About Putin’s shirtless photo-ops

“You said ‘half-naked’ not ‘naked,’ thank God. When I am on vacation I see no need to hide behind the bushes, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

On opposition figure Alexei Navalny

“Voters can scope out anyone, because the internet is open and free. Nobody blocked him. Our mass media is free. People are free to speak out and make a name for themselves as representatives of many political movements do.”

“If a person gains stature in the eyes of voters, he or she becomes a figure for the country’s leaders to engage in a dialogue with. But if a political organisation has the trust of one, two, three percent of people or just hundredths of a percent, then what is there to talk about? Then we get a Mikheil Saakashvili. And we do not need clowns.”

Austria and Russia sign gas deal

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen signed a gas supply agreement with Russia on Tuesday (local time) until 2040, adding to the growing push in Europe to remove sanctions against Russia.

“American liquefied gas is two or three times more expensive than Russian gas,” President Van der Bellen said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Under such circumstances, it makes little sense in purely economic terms to replace Russian gas with American LNG.”

Mr Putin acknowledged the importance of Austria as a transit point for Russian gas to Europe.

“Austria has become one of the key, if not to say, one of the most important units of Russian gas transportation to Western Europe, and plays an important role in ensuring the energy security of the entire European continent,” he said.