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Putin intends to build relations with West without confrontation - experts

April 17, 2014, 21:30 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

MOSCOW, April 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Assessments of Russia’s relations with the United States and European Union countries over differences on the Ukrainian crisis that President Vladimir Putin expressed today speak of the Russian president as a professional and pragmatic politician not prone to emotions, said experts polled by ITAR-TASS after today’s live televised call-in that the head of state held with the country’s nationals and members of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

“Despite sanctions against Russia imposed by the United States and European Union countries, the tonality of Putin’s answers to urgent questions on the international agenda was not hostile toward the West. On the contrary, the Russian president repeatedly stressed the country’s interest in cooperation with Europe, in establishing a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok for the sake of competitiveness in a quickly developing world,” Sergei Oznobishchev, director of the Strategic Assessments Institute, told ITAR-TASS.

“Moreover, Putin stressed that Russia belongs to the European Christian civilization, and recalled common values. By this, he somewhat cooled the ardor of those who are zealously seeking a special path for Russia and expressed the hope that partners in Europe and overseas will hear him,” Oznobishchev said.

The expert recalled that since the very start of the Ukrainian crisis, the Russian president has been trying to bring to European partners Russia’s position regarding events occurring near its western borders, which affect the country’s security interests - the talk is first and foremost about the deployment of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.

“During his live televised call-in, Putin looked stronger than other world leaders in his argumentation of Russia’s foreign policy,” Alexei Podberezkin, pro-rector for research of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations under the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

The expert noted that the head of state does not share the viewpoint on reorientation of Russia from the West to Asia and rejects the idea of a world built in blocs, emphasizing that Russia and China do not plan to establish a military-political alliance.

“The relations of Russia and China are outlined clearly. Back in the Soviet times, one of Chinese politicians said China will be neither a pro-Soviet nor a pro-American power, but will be pro-Chinese. In the same manner, Russia will neither be pro-Western nor pro-Chinese but a pro-Russian state,” Podberezkin said.

The Russian president’s calm non-confrontational tone regarding Western partners due to the Ukrainian crisis was also noted by international affairs expert Vyacheslav Nikonov, a lawmaker from the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma.

“Putin once again extended a hand to the West in the desire to start a constructive conversation to overcome Ukraine’s split and prevent a civil war in the country. Moscow’s consent to take part in a four-party meeting in Geneva involving the heads of foreign policy departments of Russia, the United States, the EU and Ukraine only proves it,” Nikonov told ITAR-TASS.

Ukraine saw a coup in February, which brought new people to power amid deadly riots. Crimea, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities. It held a referendum in which it decided to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. A relevant deal was signed March 18.

Moscow does not recognize the new Kiev authorities either.

The events were followed by protests against the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian leaders that erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern regions, with demonstrators demanding referendums on the country’s federalization.


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