Russia ready to work with EU, says Putin in Austria

Russia is willing to mend ties with the European Union, President Vladimir Putin (pictured) told reporters after holding talks with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna on Tuesday.

Economic sanctions hurt nations that face them and also those that impose them. Russia, like other nations, wants current sanctions against it to be lifted although the measures are no longer hurting its economy.

Diplomatic ties between Russia and EU states remain frozen and the bloc is responsible for this, Putin said. Constructive talks are under way between Moscow and Brussels and there are differences.

For instance, EU is upset over what it considers as Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its involvement in Syrian conflict. But Crimea gained independence through an open referendum and not as a result of an invasion by Russian forces, Putin said.

Similarly in Syria, Russia is supporting a legitimate government under President Bashar al-Assad which some other powers want to overthrow.

Van der Bellen said Austria has always tried to reduce tensions in Europe. Unlike other EU states, it did not expel Russian diplomats following the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

He said it is embarrassing to talk about Russia and Europe because a major part of Russia is in Europe.

After Russia’s Gazprom and Austria’s OMV signed a gas supply contract until 2040. Van der Bellen said it makes no sense for EU states to buy from the US liquified natural gas which is three times more expensive than that imported from Russia.