Putin condemns EU interference in Ukraine

Putin condemns EU interference in Ukraine
Wed Jan 29, 2014 09:08:38

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the European Union for sending high-level delegations to Ukraine during its anti-government protests, saying that could be interpreted as political interference.

Speaking at the conclusion of an EU-Russia summit in Brussels on Tuesday, he said: “I can imagine the reaction of our European partners if, in the midst of a crisis in Greece or any other country, our foreign minister would come to an anti-European rally and would urge people to do something.”

“The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are,” said Putin. “Considering the specifics of relations between Russia and Ukraine, it is simply unacceptable.”

The EU has sent a procession of senior officials, including Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, to meet with government and opposition leaders in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic. Ashton had been scheduled to visit Kiev again later this week, but she decided to fly to Ukraine on Tuesday.

Putin said the EU has been too soft on Ukraine’s opposition, noting some of its members have used racist and xenophobic arguments to win popular support.

During Tuesday’s one-day summit, Putin met with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The summit had been scheduled to last for two days, but it was cut short by mutual agreement.

At a news conference afterward, both sides acknowledged their wide-ranging differences over the unrest in Ukraine following the country’s decision in December to turn toward Russia for a bailout loan instead of signing a deal with the EU. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision set off the widespread and sometimes violent protests there, and the EU has harshly criticized Russia, saying it had used threats to keep Ukraine in its grip.

In Brussels, Putin said Moscow will fulfill its economic commitments to Ukraine, even if the country’s entire leadership were to change and align itself closer to the EU. He said his main concern in Ukraine is to protect Russia’s financial commitments, not geopolitical issues regarding its future.

He said Russia will abide by the agreement providing credits and cheaper gas to Ukraine — a deal worth $15 billion — even if its government is led by the EU-leaning opposition.


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