Vladimir Putin has criticised western governments for seeking to “reign” over Europe, blaming Nato’s post-Cold War expansion for the crisis in relations between Russia, the United States, and Europe.
In a bitter condemnation of the post-Cold War world order, Mr Putin said the current confrontation between Russia and the West occurred because western leaders ignored advice against expanding Nato and Russia’s post-communist leaders failed to assert the country’s interests following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But he insisted Russia was willing to cooperate on fighting terrorism, international crime, and environmental issues as long as the West “listens to us, critically reflect on what we say.”
“We did everything wrong from the outset,” Mr Putin said in a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper Bild. “We did not overcome Europe’s division: 25 years ago the Berlin Wall fell, but Europe’s division was not overcome, invisible walls simply moved to the East,” Mr Putin said. “This created the foundation for mutual reproaches, misunderstanding, and crises in the future.”
Instead, the alliance should have refused membership to former communist nations in eastern and central Europe, telling candidate countries like Hungary and the Poland that “we see the future of Europe in a different way,” he said.