President Vladimir Putin said it was not Russia’s business to analyze the foreign policy of European countries, but discussing inter-European affairs with European partners in Washington “is not very interesting”.
The Russian president spoke to the Swiss RTS TV channel.
Asked to comment on the “ironic” turn in European politics, which has seen right-wing political parties gain public support, and seemingly speak out in favor of Putin’s statements as opposed to politicians on the left, the President said the underlying reason was Washington’s troublesome interference into the domestic affairs of other nations.
Putin has received support from Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front or Swiss Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC). He described it as a “tectonic shift in Europeans’ public conscience” in the direction of protecting national interests, including from foreign political interventions.
According to Putin, a number of issues Europe is facing now, including the influx of migrants from places such as war-torn Libya, have to do with “decisions taken over the [Atlantic] ocean.” In fact, Europe is now paying for decisions it did not make, he stressed.
He also mentioned that the US has been “pursuing an imperial policy for a long time.” In addition, he cited the opinion of some American political analysts who “believe that this imperial angle hurts the US.”
After several questions from Swiss media on the FIFA corruption scandal, Putin said he doesn’t believe it had anything to do with actions of the organization’s head, President Sepp Blatter, hinting that he views the allegations as politically motivated.
He questioned whether the efforts to pursue the investigation stemmed from failed attempts of the US and its key ally, the UK, to secure bids to host the 2022 and 2018 World Cups: “The way this fight against corruption looks makes me wonder if it isn’t a continuation of the bids for 2018 and 2022.”
He said European countries should be less beholden to military blocks and the US when considering issues concerning their own national interests.
“It would be great to see Europe show more independence and sovereignty, and the ability to stand up for its national interests – the interests of its peoples and countries,” Putin said in an interview with RTS published on Monday.
He added that he “hopes” another war in Europe is not in the cards.
The Russian leader added that a certain level of sovereignty is undoubtedly lost when joining any “any military-political organization [or] military-political bloc.” Putin noted that “France withdrew from NATO in order to preserve its sovereignty to a greater extent than would have been possible had it been part of the organization,” referring to the French withdrawal from NATO in the 1960s. France fully returned to the military bloc only in 2009.
Putin explained that Russia’s stance on US foreign policy “has nothing to do with anti-Americanism,” adding that Russians “have respect and great love for the USA, and especially for the American people.”
When answering a question about Russia’s earlier efforts to fight terrorism and the lack of Western support at the time, Putin said that European governments had ignored abundant evidence of terrorist activity, such as Al-Qaeda affiliates fighting in the Russian North Caucasus.
“When I asked my colleagues, including Europeans: ‘You see what is happening?’ they used to respond: ‘Yes, we do, but due to various domestic, international circumstances, we cannot support you.’ I would tell them then: ‘If you cannot support us – at least don’t hinder our efforts.’”
Putin criticized the US government’s self-perceived right to pressure other countries around the world, acting from a policy of “who is not with us, is against us.” Still, with enough patience it is possible and necessary to work with the American side on solving global issues, Putin said, praising international efforts that have led to a recent deal on Iran’s nuclear program.