Why did Putin attend Kneissl's wedding?

Russian President Putin spent around 90 minutes at the wedding party of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl on Saturday. The invitation was harshly criticised by politicians and media at home and abroad. But there are also those who praise the Russian leader's performance at the wedding.

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Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Putin setting an example for others

Putin's visit to a wedding in the Austrian state of Styria was the next step in a Russian charm offensive that began with the World Cup, Ria Novosti believes:

“In a world of growing confrontation, of the breaking off of contacts, of endless quarrelling and scandals Moscow (and Putin personally) are reminding the powerful of this world that things could all be very different. That there's a lot of joy, goodness and friendship in this world, and that all the differences of opinion can be resolved in constructive and calm talks. Against the backdrop of a global escalation in its most crude and dirtiest form Russia is setting a simple example at the highest level of decent human behaviour: hospitality, warmth and joy over the good fortune of others.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

The warlord plays the party animal

Putin's party antics were appalling, writes Eesti Päevaleht:

“So the world has finally been given proof that the Russian president can also play the wedding entertainer and dance with the bride to put everyone in a good mood (and that, ladies and gentlemen, in these times of war!). Accompanied by temperamental Cossacks, as has been the custom among Russian emperors travelling to Europe since Napoleon's times. It's a shocking move in the game that has long been described as a hybrid propaganda war.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Demanding Kneissl's resignation goes too far

Kneissl having invited Putin to her wedding and danced with him was clumsy but it doesn't constitute a reason for her dismissal, Die Presse finds:

“With her unconventional wedding diplomacy Kneissl has symbolically moved Austria, as its EU presidency begins, into the pro-Russian corner where the FPÖ has always felt at home since it signed its peace treaty with the Kremlin party. She should have reflected for a few more seconds before she invited Putin. ... But to demand the foreign minister's resignation, as an MEP for the Greens has advocated, is absurd. She didn't say Putin could annex Austria as the 23rd republic of the Russian Federation, she simply invited him to drink a glass of wine and eat some fried chicken at her wedding. That is odd and has hurt the country's image as a bridge-builder in Ukraine, but in theory it could open up diplomatic opportunities.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Support for the far right

Putin is attending the wedding in Austria not so much to maintain good relations than to bolster the far right in Europe, Vitali Portnikov concludes in newsru.com:

“Putin's visit is in keeping with an old tradition: hatred of democracy and the values of the free world as well as the desire for revenge and to expand its empire have constantly driven the Kremlin to take sides with the maniacs and make Russia their protector. At the end of the 1930s it sided with the Nazis. After the war it was the ultra-left terrorists who had been trained in special camps run by the Soviet secret service. ... The trip of the 'wedding general' to Austria shows that Putin's heart belongs to the ultra-right European politicians - people with the same political leanings as those against whom our grandfathers fought.”

Kurier (AT) /

Wedding turns into political faux pas

Newspaper Kurier looks at what could have prompted Austria's foreign minister to invite the Russian president to her wedding:

“Ideally it was just the craving for personal recognition of a young politician who hasn't had an easy time climbing to her current position. In the worst case it is an attempt by the Freedom Party of Austria to curry favour with the authoritarian leader Putin, with all the attending negative consequences. Those who wanted to be seen as 'bridge builders' between Russia and Ukraine have made fools of themselves, and ex-KGB man Putin has got his big show.”

Denník N (SK) /

Continuation of a sinister tradition

Austria has always had closer ties with Russia than other states, Dennik N comments:

“Since the end of World War II Austria has always been keen to maintain good relations with Moscow. At the start it had no choice because it was occupied. But to this day Austria continues to use its neutrality and its ties with various Eastern dictatorships to its own economic advantage. That explains why it became a diplomatic hotspot, a centre of finance and espionage. Putin's invitation to the wedding of a foreign minister nominated by the far-right FPÖ is thus not an about-face in Austrian politics but the continuation of a sinister tradition.”