Vienna Presents Itself as a Bridge Builder: Austrian Chancellor to Meet Putin in Moscow

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: April 10, 2022; 23:46 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will meet Russian President Putin in Moscow for talks. It will be the first meeting of an EU head of government with Putin since the beginning of the war. After the recent expulsion of four Russian diplomats and in view of the current stalemate a daring but diplomatically sensible step.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer wants to promote a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. / Picture: © ÖVP Bundespartei / Jacob Glaser

Austrian Chancellor Karl will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for talks, according to a report by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).

Nehammer wants to promote a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.

During the talks, the chancellor also wants to address Putin on the war crimes in Ukraine.

The trip has been arranged with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the daily Krone wrote.

Nehammer said he wanted to act as a bridge builder and try everything to get a little closer to peace, according to the Krone. This would require not only telephone conversations, but also personal visits.

The NEOS commented on the chancellor's visit to Putin: "Chancellor Nehammer's visit to Russian President Putin must not lead to Austria leaving the common European path. Putin is clearly the aggressor in this war. There can be no neutrality on this issue. The ultimate goal must be peace in Ukraine. And that can only succeed in a joint European approach. Overall, there is concern that the meeting will ultimately benefit Putin more than Ukraine. After all, it already happened that Austrian politicians let themselves be harnessed to the Russian propaganda cart," explains NEOS Chairwoman Meinl-Reisinger.

"Regardless of this trip, it must be made clear that Austria is finally implementing the European Union's sanctions in full. Economic sanctions are an essential part of finally bringing Russia to the negotiating table. But what has Austria already done here? Have assets of Russian oligarchs been frozen at all? Especially when Chancellor Nehammer travels to Russia to meet President Putin, these questions must finally be answered," Meinl-Reisinger said.

Nehammer just went to Ukraine on Saturday for a solidarity visit. At a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he called Russia's war "completely unacceptable" and assured Ukraine of help.

Austria's rejection of a gas embargo was defended by Nehammer, who, however, also announced further sanctions packages. Zelenskyy explicitly thanked Nehammer for the visit and expressed confidence.