Austria: Putin looms large over EU ministers meeting

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By Stefan Grobe  & Damon Embling
Austria: Putin looms large over EU ministers meeting

As EU defence and foreign ministers gather in Vienna, one figure looms large over the meeting -Vladimir Putin.

He was the guest of honour at the Austrian foreign minister's wedding recently - another sign perhaps of Austria's policy towards Moscow.

"Vienna is conducting a certain policy of appeasement towards Russia," explained Hans Rauscher, a columnist at Der Standard. 

"Putin then sometimes concedes one centimeter of ground, but claims one foot of ground from the EU in return. As the chancellor has said, you need Russia for keeping the peace in Europe. That is quite a banality."

Vienna would like to see its EU partners cooperate more closely with Putin, because Russia is seen as holding the key in the Syrian conundrum.

Reporting from the Austrian capital, Euronews' Stefan Grobe said: "The Austrian government keeps trying to play the Russian card, but that has not resonated much with fellow EU members. At the same time, Russia is pushing the Europeans to start contributing funds for the reconstruction of Syria, as soon as possible. This is a no-go for Brussels, as long as Assad remains in power."