The head of Austria’s foreign ministry, Alexander Schallenberg, says Russian President Vladimir Putin crossed a “red line” when he resorted to food and gas blackmail.
This is apparent from Schallenberg’s interview with Profil, reports Ukrinform.
“Moscow is now playing a cynical game with food, which it blocks exports from, and also with energy. This is a ‘red line’ that Vladimir Putin has crossed,” he said.
According to Schallenberg, it is noteworthy that “Moscow is demanding that sanctions be lifted so that Russia can supply gas again.”
“And this is proof that sanctions work. It is like a cry from Moscow. Moreover, Russia is doing something that even the Soviet Union did not do during the Cold War: it turns out to be a completely unreliable economic partner, and it loses all confidence said the head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
He expressed the hope that Putin’s gas blackmail will not work in Europe, because the question now is whether the Western community can defend its values and its way of life.
The Austrian minister also stressed that Western democracies would have to prove Putin wrong if he considers them “weak and unable to act as one”.
“We have to prove him wrong! We surprised him because we have been showing unity for more than six months. Now we need strategic patience and nerves of steel,” said Schallenberg.
The head of Austria’s foreign ministry also stated that Putin’s threats to cut gas flows to the EU in the event that the bloc introduces a price cap on Russian gas imports should not deter the Union.
“It is unfortunate that Russia has proven in recent months that it is not a reliable partner, but this is the reality. Against this background, I welcome the fact that the President of the Commission has made several proposals for short-term measures. Security of supply and availability of energy must be at the center of all our efforts, which is why it is necessary to study the individual elements of these proposals very carefully,” he said.
In addition, Schallenberg stressed that the European Union “must continue to show unity and further reduce our dependence on Russian gas by switching to alternative and renewable energy”.
In the interview, the foreign minister also said that after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, he communicated only once and only in writing with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Schallenberg, pointing to the importance of ongoing communication, also pointed out that he is “very surprised by what he has partially heard from Lavrov”. “Anti-Semitic statements are disgusting. So many ‘red lines’ have been crossed that a return to the status quo no longer seems possible to me,” the Austrian minister added.
According to him, it should not be forgotten that the International Criminal Court is currently investigating “whether Russia is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity”. “This is the hardest part,” Schallenberg added.
As reported by Ukrinform, the head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Schallenberg, reaffirmed the federal government’s position regarding the need to extend EU sanctions against the Russian Federation, which are effective and an “even more dramatic effect” on Russia. in a few months.