Russia has “nothing against” Ukraine’s possible membership of the European Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday after the European Commission recommended granting Kyiv candidate status of the 27-member bloc.
“We have nothing against it. It’s their sovereign decision to join economic unions or not… It’s their business, the business of the Ukrainian people,” Putin told Russia’s annual economic showcase, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Russia, which has been leading an offensive in Ukraine since February 24, takes a very dim view of Kyiv’s aspirations to join NATO – which Moscow considers a threat to its security.
But “as far as their economic integration is concerned, it is their choice,” Putin said.
“The EU is not a military alliance, unlike NATO,” he said.
The Russian president, however, said he believed that if Ukraine went ahead with joining the EU it would “turn into a semi-colony” of Western countries.
“That’s my opinion,” he said.