ST PETERSBURG, June 19. /TASS/. Russia is eager to have a constructive dialogue with partners and it hopes to see its interests respected, too, President Vladimir Putin said while answering questions from participants in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.
In reply to the remark Russia would like "to be respected and conduct negotiations as an equitable partner and that it must be feeling certain concerns regarding the creation of a buffer zone along its border," Putin said that there was nothing out of the ordinary about that wish.
"Russia wants to be respected, that’s true. No one finds any pleasure in being spitted on," he said, adding it was not respect as such or the absence of it that really mattered.
"We wish to safeguard our interests without causing harm to our partners. We count on a constructive, open and meaningful dialogue. When we see none, we react accordingly," Putin explained.
As an example he mentioned the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. Russia’s initial reaction was positive, he said, because Russia proceeded from the understanding of its proximity to the countries of Eastern Europe, with which it was connected by thousands of bonds, including those in the economy, infrastructure and technological regulations. There had been the hope that the efforts to bring the regions’ countries closer to the EU through that program would inevitably start a process of closer interaction between Russia and the EU with the net effect of achieving a common solution to create a common economic and humanitarian space."
"Nothing of the kind has happened," Putin said.
Specifically he emphasized the root causes of the crisis in Ukraine. He recalled that when Ukraine was invited to conclude an association agreement with the European Union, it was a member of the CIS free trade zone. In that way the Western partners would get instant access to Russia’s customs zone.
"The proposals for holding consultations evoked the reply: ‘That’s none of your business’," Putin said.
"Is this the proper way of addressing issues?" Putin asked. "Why then asking this question about respect? We would like Russia’s interests to be taken into account.".