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IHT: “Putin Does Not Like the European Union”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a press conference at Sennigen’s Castle, during an official visit to Luxembourg (AFP)

From the IHT:

But something more fundamental has changed in Putin’s Russia, which the Europeans have yet to grasp. Putin does not like the European Union. “If the EU agrees on anything, it is values such as human rights and democracy. The present leadership in Russia strongly disagrees with these values,” said Oksana Antonenko, a Russian analyst at International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “The EU cannot deal with this. It has a complex about Russia. It hankers after a Russia that will embrace its values. For Putin, this means hectoring and lecturing. The EU has no strategy over how to deal with this new Russia.” …. There are other reasons why Putin increasingly dislikes the EU. The EU is trying to develop a Neighborhood Policy for countries including Ukraine and Moldova. Although it is short on incentives for persuading these countries to pursue radical political and economic changes, Russia nevertheless resents the policy. The Kremlin has made it clear to Germany, which has initiated a new EU policy toward Central Asia, to stop meddling in a region Moscow regards as its legitimate sphere of influence. Gernot Erler, state secretary at the German Foreign Ministry and a Russian specialist, recently said Berlin had tried to explain to Putin that such an initiative posed no threat to Russia. Even so, it is what the EU represents that worries the Kremlin. “The issue is values,” said Gienek Smolar, director of the Center for International Affairs in Warsaw. “Putin does not like the spread of the EU’s value system, regardless of its minimal impact so far on improving human rights in Central Asia.”