Speech in the plenary debate on High Representative Josep Borrell’s visit to Russia
With an ounce of intelligence, he could have got the message brought to him by the mere fact that Josep Borrell has come for a visit. With an ounce of finesse, he could have understood that although we condemned, totally condemned, and said it loud and clear that we condemned the judicial harassment inflicted on Alexei Navalny and the arresting of the demonstrators who support him, at the same time we wanted to keep bridges open with Russia, especially when it comes to Iran.
Nothing is more legitimate and easier to understand than this position but what Mr Putin understood was that he had to behave like a little schoolyard bully and to proclaim to the world and to Russia that he did not fear us.
Well, Mr Putin, you failed.
By behaving so badly, all you did was let your panic show, the panic that now blinds you because the Russian opposition has found its figurehead, because you are losing ground in the states that have emerged from your former Empire, because your popularity is declining, because your coffers are emptying and because this tête-à-tête with China, to which your blindness condemns your country, no one in Russia has an appetite for it, neither the big money-makers, nor the security forces, nor the urban middle classes. You are losing your touch, Mr Putin, and while the end of your reign may be long and painful, it has started – you are starting it up with your obvious panic.