Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, said he hoped the meeting would be positive and pave the way for talks on a new partnership across the board.
But he told the Financial Times Mr Putin would not take criticisms of Russia lying down, and claimed the EU should stop trying to turn countries such as Ukraine away from Moscow by presenting them with an “artificial dilemma”.
Mr Chizhov added that Mr Putin would not take lectures on human rights while ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia, two new EU members, were treated as “non-citizens”.
He also claimed that Estonia was being turned into “an SS hall of fame”, with memorials being erected to local soldiers who fought with the Germans against Soviet forces in the second world war. An Estonian government spokeswoman denied the allegation.
“The EU is doing nothing,” Mr Chizhov said. “We supported the accession of these countries to the EU and we hoped the ‘big brothers’ inside the EU would provide them with a certain calming – even educational – influence,” he said.
“So far this hasn’t produced the changes we were hoping for.”
Notes to Chizhov:
1. Russians were the largest minority in the Republic of Estonia prior to its occupation by Soviet forces. According to the census of 1934, Russians made up nearly 9 percent of the population of Estonia. And every one of the descendents of those inhabitants was eligible for citizenship when Estonia regained its independence.
2. The Estonian government has been more willing to remove monuments to Estonian 20th Waffen SS than to do anything about the memorials to the Red Army soldiers that took Tallinn in 1944. Because the Soviets killed more Estonians than the Nazis did, the Estonian people have the right to make their own moral judgements about the actors of World War II.
Still, I've been to many Estonian towns. I've been to Kärdla, Kuressaare, Paide, Pärnu, Viljandi, Tartu, Põlva, Tallinn, Käsmu - I've spent a lot of time in Suure-Jaani, but I've never seen anything that would lead me to believe that Estonia is an 'SS Hall of Fame.'
Both of these facts lead me to think that the EU knows that Russia is grasping at straws when it tries to play the "Estonia" card. The only trouble I see ahead is putting together a common EU policy towards Russia [no way!, really?]
But seriously, folks. What does the EU really need to tell Russia? Or better yet, what advice can the EU give Russia that Russia will actually consider? On Belarus? On gas pipelines? On Georgia? On Iran?
Does the EU have any leverage over Russia? Does Russia have any need to listen to its concerns? Does anybody trust Russia enough to believe it will do anything it says it will do?
If Chizhov's observations of Estonia can be so false and untrue AND the EU obviously knows them to be false and untrue then what exactly is the point of this summit? Is it just a PR show for Finland? Maybe not even that.