Russia reminds that discord between two nuclear powers is fraught with consequence

Thu, 16.10.2014 16:17

KYIV/Ukraine in Arabic/ Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the sanctions pressure from the West and the attempts to isolate Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine will not take effect but only complicate the dialogue, including the one on the Ukrainian issue.

"Our partners should be well aware that attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures will not bring about a settlement, but rather impede the dialogue," Mr. Putin said.

"How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process? If the main goal is to isolate our country, it's an absurd and illusory goal."

The Russian leader added: "We are hoping that our partners will understand the imprudence of attempts to blackmail Russia, [and] remember what discord between large nuclear powers can do to strategic stability."

It is the second time that the Kremlin chief has alluded to Russia's nuclear might in the last two months. At the end of August he told a group of Russian youngsters that it was "best not mess with us", adding: "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

Mr. Putin travels to Serbia on Thursday on his way to the Europe-Asia summit in Milan, where he is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, and Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor.

In Belgrade he will join a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the city's liberation from Nazi occupation.

Serbia is a traditional ally of Russia and remains close despite its aspirations to join the EU. Mr Putin is guest of honor at the parade – the first of its kind for almost 30 years in the Serbian capital – and is promised an effusive welcome.

In his interview, Mr. Putin praised the heroism of Soviet soldiers and Yugoslav partisans who drove the Nazis out of Belgrade during World War II.

Moscow calls the Ukrainian government that took over after the flight of Vladimir Yanukovych, its Russian-leaning president, in February a "fascist junta" and the Russian president used similar language in his speech.

"Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus 'vaccine' created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect," he said. "This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states."

Nationalists in Ukraine were also a threat, he said.

Also on Thursday, Sergei Ivanov, Mr. Putin's chief of staff, admitted in a newspaper interview that US and EU sanctions had done "a certain amount of damage" to Russia but said they had had "a psychologically positive effect on public opinion".

"Many representatives of liberal society have said to me: 'Listen, now we finally understand that however much we aspire to be Europeans, whatever we do, they will still attack us. And attack us unfairly."

Mr. Ivanov said that 99.9 per cent of Russians were not bothered by a Kremlin import ban imposed on US and European foodstuffs, introduced in response to Western sanctions.

The remaining 0.1 per cent could "calmly board a plane to Tallinn or Helsinki, it's not even necessary to fly to Zurich or Paris, to buy up lots of cured ham and parmesan," he said.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, is due to attend the Europe-Asia summit, which is being held on Thursday and Friday in Milan and is expected to focus on the Ukraine crisis and economic issues.


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