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Moscow warns against more sanctions on Iran

The Russian President has warned that any further UN sanctions against Iran may force Tehran into a corner over its nuclear programme. It comes as the Russian leader meets his EU counterparts at a summit in Portugal. The status of Kosovo and energy securi

Russia's President said Russia remained opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He said the point was made clear at last week's Caspian summit in Tehran. He also questioned the effectiveness of sanctions.

“So why threaten Iran with sanctions or military action? In North Korea we are close to finding a solution, and that was done through dialogue,” Mr Putin stressed.

Kosovo status 

Among the issues that top the agenda of the Russia-EU summit on Friday is the status of the Serbian region of Kosovo.  

According to Russian officials, Moscow could vote in favour of an independent Kosovo if Pristina and Belgrade reach agreement between themselves first. But time is running out, as Kosovans threaten to declare independence unilaterally if there is no compromise by December 10.

Speaking to journalists in Lisbon ahead of the summit, Vladimir Putin said it was not up to the outside world to decide Kosovo's final status.

“Why rock the boat in the Balkans? We should have patience and find a way out using existing regulations. And the solution should be acceptable to both sides,” Mr Putin said.

The Russian leader went on to say that Moscow was safeguarding Europe's interests by urging caution.

“Sometimes it seems to me that when we discuss issues with our colleagues, with our counterparts from the European Commission, we defend European interests to a greater degree than our counterparts,” the Russian President said.

RT's political commentator, Peter Lavelle, says although there is a mood of compromise in the air between Russia and the EU, the Portuguese summit is unlikely to see progress on the Balkans. “A breakthrough on Kosovo – I don’t see it on the cards. The only breakthrough they can get is really disagreeing very strongly,” he said.

“I don't expect any kind of moves, because it is not up to Russia and not up to the EU to solve this question, it is up to the Albanians and Serbs. Mr Putin said yesterday that the only thing we need is patience. At the same time, I’m afraid that quite soon we'll see that negotiations will fail. And after that it will be a very complicated situation for the EU because it will be really a big problem for the EU to recognise the unilateral independence of Kosovo – having such a country like Cyprus for example which is divided – they can’t do it. They can’t recognise Kosovo without complications,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine 'Russia in Global Affairs'.

Energy security

The security of energy supplies is also among the top issues on the agenda. Europe, heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia, fears a repeat of the events of 2005 and 2006 when Russia's demand that its gas was bought at market prices was followed by energy disputes, first with Ukraine and then Belarus.

This time Russian officials are offering to introduce an early warning system that will alert Brussels in advance should such cases occur in future. This seems to calm some of the Europeans who pledge their support to Russia:

“We cannot understand the history of Europe without Russia and we cannot conceive the future of Europe without Russia,” stated Portuguese Ambassador to Russia, Manuel Marco Kurtu.

With all the stumbling blocks in the relations between Russia and the EU, and even divisions within the union itself, finding a common approach might be hard, but it is in the interests of both sides.

Meantime, on Friday morning, Vladimir Putin met the representatives of a round-table conference of Russian and EU industrialists and entrepreneurs. The session had some important results. One of them is an agreement on co-operation in fighting drug trafficking, and another agreement on steel that has been extended.

“On the matter of steel we need some progress. The agreement we have has been extended for another year. We are happy with this new agreement. On the whole, we think that it is beneficial for the steel industry. It will help us sell our goods in Europe and to make the situation more stable,” said Aleksey Mordashov, CEO of Severstal Group.

To watch the media briefing, please follow thelink.