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Van der Bellen: “I was wrong about Putin”

Van der Bellen: “I was wrong about Putin”
Federal President Van der Bellen

“I admit, I was wrong about Putin. I thought he would be satisfied with the inexcusable annexation of Crimea and land access there, which was contrary to international law. Sorry, complete misjudgment,” said Van der Bellen to “Spiegel”. “Putin is an aggressor,” stated the Federal President. The Russian president lives in the 18th century. “There is this anecdote in which people ask: ‘Do you know anyone that Putin still listens to? Answer: Of course – Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Catherine the Great.’ “Russia has to be literally big in Putin’s eyes so that he can take himself seriously as a leader,” Van der Bellen continued. When asked why Austria had filled Putin’s war chest by purchasing Russian natural gas by ten billion euros since 2022, the Federal President said that he was aware of the problem. “We are working to change that.”

  • also read: Putin invokes Russia’s unity: “We are one big family”

“We have to learn to defend ourselves”

In any case, the united Europe is held together by the realization that “27 global political dwarves can only defend their interests as a union,” Van der Bellen continued. Ironically, in Sochi in 2019, Putin himself pointed out to him “that the EU states together spend five times as much on the military as Russia. And the Americans actually spend three times as much as all EU states. He wasn’t far off the mark,” he stated Federal President. Everyone underestimated the fragmentation of the European arms industry. “The EU is finding it difficult to leave the positions of pure soft power. We have to learn to defend ourselves,” emphasized the Federal President.

Not a gloomy prognosis

Nevertheless, Van der Bellen warned against overly gloomy forecasts regarding the European Union. “In 2016, some of your colleagues said that I could no longer win against the FPÖ candidate Norbert Hofer, that the first stone would fall, then Emmanuel Macron would lose in France and so on. None of that happened.” In addition, Van der Bellen believes that the elections in Poland and Slovenia were very encouraging, despite the election victory of a Russia-friendly government in Slovakia and the government of Viktor Orban in Hungary, who describes himself as an opponent of liberal democracy. “I believe that in the hour of need, this united Europe will reflect on its strengths. If it wants to, that is, that it will ensure peace and prosperity for its citizens.”

Regarding Italy, the Federal President explained that Giorgia Meloni not only thinks transatlantically and is against Putin and the war in Ukraine, but also knows how important Brussels, i.e. the EU, is for Italy. Nevertheless, it is important to be vigilant. In principle, he would have nothing against a two-speed Europe, said Van der Bellen. “What I don’t want is for the EU to see itself as a loose combination of 27 allotments. Above all, we need a common foreign and defense policy.”

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Source: Nachrichten

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