Vladimir Putin's own words at the ceremony at which he signed the deal that will lead to a the new Russia/Bulgaria pipeline showed just how much he was enjoying having the European Union's collective balls in his mail-fisted grip,
"There is a tough struggle among European nations for Russia to build such gas transportation networks," he said. "We don't need to convince anyone; they are pleading with us for that every day, especially in the autumn and winter period."What is even funnier, given the current state of UK/Russian relations is how the outgoing president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) talked about that country,
"President René van der Linden today welcomed the Russian Federation’s European orientation and its commitment to the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law".Now Mr van der Linden did make suggestions that certain things weren't tikity boo in Mother Russia, with a side swipe at electoral processes, but this sounds like a supplicant rather than words of confidence. We must after all remember that the Russians have just elected a man to be an MP who is wanted for the brutal public killing of a British citizen in London, Alexander Litvenienko.
What makes the involvement of the Council of Europe even funnier is that the only people allied to President Putin's party in the Parliamentary Assembly are the British Tories who are part of the European Democrat Group.
The Chairman of this Group is one Mikhail Margelov, a nice chap who having been the chief spin doctor in the North Caucasus (read Chechenya) became Putin's pressman for foreigners and is currently Chairman of the Russian Foreign Affairs Committee, the sort of fellow that Tories such as the federalist North Dorset MP, Bob Walters must love to associate themselves with.
Margelov who was expected to take over the Presidency of PACE with the support of the Conservatives (as Dennis MacShane pointed out in last weeks Spectator - no link subscription only) has been blocked for the time being, but,
"The reform entails that the Assembly's presidency and committee chairmanships rotate every two years instead of three. Being the biggest group, the Socialists will nominate the first candidate, and Margelov's European Democrats will be next".