Putin slams US, says Europe `natural partner`
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday described the conflict in Ukraine as the culmination of Western efforts to contain Russia and sought to play Moscow`s "natural partner" Europe against the United States.
Moscow: President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday described the conflict in Ukraine as the culmination of Western efforts to contain Russia and sought to play Moscow`s "natural partner" Europe against the United States.
In a keynote speech laying out his foreign policy priorities, Putin lambasted the US drive to sideline Moscow and said Europe has become a victim of "short-sighted, ideology-driven approaches".
"We should clearly understand that the events provoked in Ukraine have become the essence of the proverbial politics of containment," Putin said in the biennial address to ambassadors.
"Let me stress that what has happened in Ukraine is the culmination of negative tendencies in global affairs and they have been accumulating for years," he said.
In what political analysts said appeared to be an undisguised attempt to drive a wedge between Brussels and Washington, Putin said Moscow`s "natural partner" Europe appeared to be a pawn in international politics.
"More and more European politicians and business people understand that one simply wants to use Europe in someone else`s interests, that it is becoming a hostage to short-sighted, ideology-driven approaches," he said without elaborating.
The Russian president singled out US pressure on French banks, saying it was "blackmail" linked to Paris`s decision to press ahead with a sensitive deal to supply Moscow with warships.
"We know of the pressure that our American partners are putting on France so that they don`t send the Mistrals to Russia," Putin said.
The Kremlin strongman stressed that Russia -- which faces the threat of fresh Western sanctions over Ukraine -- was an unalienable part of Europe.
He tasked his diplomats with putting together a raft of proposals on how avoid future crises and meddling in European affairs.
"All of us in Europe need a safety net of sorts," Putin said. "The task is, to incorporate the traditional principle of non-intervention into modern European realities and initiate serious international talks about this."
Russia is locked in its biggest post-Cold War showdown with the West over Ukraine, where the United States and its allies say the Kremlin is backing pro-Moscow separatists in the east.
The West has slapped sanctions against some of Putin`s key allies and warned of a new round of punitive measures if Moscow does not persuade Ukrainian rebels to lay down their arms.