MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin, who visits Italy today to meet with officials, told local media that his country wants to resume full relations with the European Union.
In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Russia’s head of state said recent rumors of alleged Russian interference in elections in Europe would aim to continue to demonize Moscow on the continent. According to him, his country is ready to work with the forces elected by the European population in order to maintain security and stability on European territory.
“I would like to make that very clear: we do not meddle and do not plan on meddling in internal affairs in any of the countries of the European Union or in other states of the world. This is our main difference from the United States and some of its allies, who, for example, supported the coup in Ukraine in February 2014,” he said.
As far as Eastern Europe is concerned, Putin said the Kremlin is willing to establish a constructive dialogue with Ukraine if its new president, Vladimir Zelensky , lives up to the campaign promises.
“Yes, it is possible for Zelensky to start fulfilling his campaign promises,” he said when asked whether Zelensky’s victory allowed a thaw in relations between Moscow and Kiev, paving the way for resolving the conflict in Donbass and for establishing a constructive dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. The Russian leader recalled that during the campaign period Zelensky promised “to establish direct contacts with his countrymen in Donbass and stop calling them separatists.”
In addition to Europe-Russia relations, the Russian president also commented on recent developments in the new START treaty. According to Putin, Moscow sees no Washington provision to discuss the possible extension of the arms control treaty, while the prospects for US-Russia cooperation in the strategic arms sphere remain uncertain.
However, he assured that Moscow has the political will to reach an agreement with the United States in the area of weapons reduction, adding that “the ball is now on the US court.”
Vladimir Putin will visit Italy on Thursday for talks with Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, President Sergio Mattarella and the Pope Francisco on a wide range of issues. According to Kremlin adviser Yury Ushakov, the Russian leader’s agenda will include topics such as Russia-EU cooperation, Iran’s nuclear program, situation in Syria, Libya and Ukraine, as well as issues related to bilateral issues.