Russia has ‘nothing against’ Ukraine joining EU, says Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday (June 17) said that Russia had ‘nothing against’ Ukraine joining the Europen Union (EU). His words came on the same day European Commission recommended granting Ukraione a candidate status of the EU. Putin was speaking at Russia’s annual economic showcase, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“We have nothing against it. It’s their sovereign decision to join economic unions or not… It’s their business, the business of the Ukrainian people,” said Putin.

Russia is currently invading Ukraine. Putin has in past expressed Russia’s fierce opposition to Ukraine joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Such a scenario has been deemed a ‘security threat’ by Moscow.

But “as far as their economic integration is concerned, it is their choice”, Putin said.

“The EU is not a military alliance, unlike NATO,” he said.

The Russian president, however, said he believed that if Ukraine went ahead with joining the EU it would “turn into a semi-colony” of Western countries.

“That’s my opinion,” he said.

Russia not cause of global issues, says Putin

During his speech, Putin defended Russia by saying global economic problems were not caused by Russian invasion.

“What is happening is not the result of recent months, much less the result of a special military operation that Russia is conducting in the Donbas,” Putin said referring to the predominantly Russia-speaking region of Eastern Ukraine. 

“The rising prices, inflation, the problem with foods, prices for fuel.. are the result of systematic mistakes in the economic policy of the current US administration and European bureaucracy,” Putin said in televised remarks at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.  

Also Read | France, Germany, Italy, Romania back Ukraine’s EU membership bid during crucial Kyiv visit

Moscow’s military action became a “lifeline” for Western countries “that allows them to blame their own miscalculations on others, in this case, on Russia,” he added.

Gas prices were also on the rise Friday, exacerbated by the decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to slash deliveries to Europe, citing repair works. 

Putin said that high energy prices “have been observed since the third quarter (of last year), long before the start of our operation in Donbas”, adding that the price hikes were also the result of Europe’s “failed energy policy”. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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