Russia’s ‘temptation of Europe’

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Series Details 22.06.16
Publication Date 22/06/2016
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During the 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (16-17 June), which Russia has for many years treated as the main platform for promoting itself on the international stage for economic cooperation, President Vladimir Putin proposed a new vision of European-Russian relations: Greater Eurasia. This is intended to be part of a wider format for economic cooperation on the scale of the entire Eurasian continent. This cooperation would include the European Union on the one hand, and the major Asian powers assembled in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (China, India, Iran) on the other. The Eurasian Union would play the role of the fundamental lodestone and bridge between them. As is his wont, President Putin suggested that the economic sanctions on Russia are hurting Europe above all and were introduced in the interest of and under pressure from the United States, and that the Europeans have become victims of Washington’s “cynical game”.

At the same time, both Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov firmly clung to the existing line of Russian diplomacy, blaming the West for worsening relations. However, they stressed that Russia will not make any concessions on either Crimea or the conflict with Ukraine, and in particular, they rejected any possibility of revising the Minsk agreements, and blamed Ukraine for the lack of progress in implementing them. The Russian president held a number of meetings with European politicians (including Matteo Renzi, the Prime Minister of Italy; Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EC; and Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President and current presidential candidate), as well as business representatives (including Ben van Beurden, the director of Royal Dutch Shell).

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ESO: Background information: Speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the 20th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016

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