August 8, 2022

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War: - "Only" meets Putin

War: – “Only” meets Putin

At 14.00 Norwegian time, the Prime Minister of Austria, Karl Nehammer, will meet with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The meeting is being held in Moscow, and is the first meeting between Putin and a European leader since the start of the war in Ukraine in February.

The Botsja massacre will be among the topics of the meeting, NTB writes. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU President Charles Michel and German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz have been informed about the meeting, he wrote financial times.

Journalists will not be allowed to attend the meeting, and no press conference will be held, according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Russian expert Jacob M. Godzimirski at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI) said that there were at least two forces behind the meeting:

The West’s need to maintain contact with Putin, and Putin’s need to legitimize his power through contact with Western leaders.

Both sides have an interest in maintaining this contact. It is important for the West to maintain some kind of connection with Putin. But he told Dagbladet that it is also important for Putin to have contact with Western leaders, simply because it shows he is not completely isolated.

– Example for Ukraine

The chief researcher stated that Austria was repeatedly mentioned in connection with the war by Russia. He believes that they are a suitable interlocutor for Russia for several reasons.

Austria’s constitution states that the country is neutral and not a member of NATO. So the state is an example for the “demilitarized” Ukraine that Putin wants, Godzimirsky believes.

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Meeting Putin: Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer, here during a press conference just before the outbreak of the war.  Photo: Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP/NTB

Meeting Putin: Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer, here during a press conference just before the outbreak of the war. Photo: Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP/NTB
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At the same time, Gudzimirsky stresses, Austria has for the past 22 years shown “an interest in building good relations” with Putin’s Russia.

– A number of key Austrian politicians have been appointed to large Russian state-owned companies, including oil companies, he says.

He also believes that historical ties bind the two countries together, noting that the Soviet Union was part of the Allied occupation of Austria from 1945 to 1955.

When French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron met Putin in February, they were They are separated by several meters.

Later, Macron contacted his Russian colleague mainly by phone.

– a little harmless

Thus, Nehamer gets a personal meeting with Putin.

– It may have something to do with the fact that he was willing to take the Russian PCR test, which Schultz and Macron refused to take.

Pictures of Putin and Macron on either side of the table have attracted a great deal of attention, interpreted by some to mean that Putin wants to maintain diplomatic distance or the humble Macron.

However, the reason must be that Macron refused to take the Russian coronation test when he arrived at the meeting. Thus, the Russians chose to put them apart, two sources in Macron’s entourage are said to have stated. Reuters.

The Russians are said to have said Macron should take a PCR test conducted by the Russian authorities so that the two heads of state sit close to each other. The French president allegedly denied this.

Schultz and Macron represent countries that Russia considers important power factors in Europe. Austria does not play such a big role in setting the European agenda. In a way, Godzimirsky concludes, they are fairly innocuous, and thus have a reputation for showing a great understanding of Russian politics.

On Saturday, Nehamer was in Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to NTB.