In September 2014, Putin privately warned Poland, Romania and the Baltic states about Russia’s military strength, according to a record of a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart. These countries are all part of the EU, the bloc that Ukraine was also looking to join at the time. According to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Putin allegedly told then Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko: “If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest.”
The statement, if made in these terms, represented the first time Putin had discussed the idea of having Russian troops in an EU or NATO member state.
President Putin sent troops to contested Crimea in 2014, annexing the region in a move condemned by Western leaders.
This also infuriated Ukraine – a country that has been plagued by conflict since the annexation – leading to increased tension in Eastern Europe.
Russia and the West have been grappling for influence in Eastern Europe since then, and the hostility led to the threat of Russian invasion.
This led to another chilling threat from the Kremlin, as Brussels was accused of “working on” Eastern European countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and now the bloc is very active in Armenia.
On World Order 2018, an Amazon Prime documentary hosted by Vladimir Solovjev, the host said: “We can see how they drip poison into their ears.
“We should do something about it. Our allies are leaving us.”
Putin responded: “The poisoners dripping poison into someone’s ears will sooner or later swallow it and get poisoned.
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Then Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK 10 days after the attack, laying down a statement of defiance to Putin.
When a journalist asked the Russian President about the incident, he expressed anger at how the world had made much of the attack, when Saudi Arabia had not, in his view, received as much criticism over the Khashoggi affair.
Speaking at an event in November 2019, President Putin was asked whether there are parallels between the EU and the Soviet Union – which broke apart in 1991.
The Russian President said that while there are differences between the two, there are also similarities. Mr Putin said: “As for the European Union, you can draw parallels [with the Soviet Union], although there are some multinational EU countries.
“I mentioned this before, and this from data provided by colleagues in the EU, here it is: The European Parliament adopts more decisions that are binding on all of the EU countries than the USSR ever adopted regarding the union republics.”