What Mr. Putin Needs to Hear

From a late night editorial posted to the Financial Times titled: It’s high time for a blunt talk with Mr Putin


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin chairs a cabinet meeting at Moscow’s Kremlin May 14, 2007. REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE (RUSSIA)

Tomorrow’s six-monthly summit between the European Union and Russia is likely to be a tetchy affair. In spite of valiant efforts by Germany, in the EU chair, to launch negotiations on a new partnership pact, fresh sources of friction have emerged to block progress. Russia blames the new member states of the EU for making mischief. Yet the reality is that Moscow’s high-handed attitude towards its former dependencies is largely to blame. It is up to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to deliver that message bluntly to President Vladimir Putin. … Russia’s thinking seems to be that the EU has few bargaining chips. Many member states, led by Germany, rely on Russian energy. They want to do business with an oil-rich Russia. And they want to avoid giving Russia any extra excuse to veto the United Nations plan for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. But the reality is that Russia needs the EU as a market as much as the EU needs Russia. That is the message Mr Putin needs to hear.