Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called Europe’s migrant crisis a predictable result of its policies in the Middle East and said he had personally warned of the consequences.
“I consider that this crisis was absolutely expected,” Putin said in comments broadcast on national television.
“We in Russia, and your humble servant in particular, several years ago said that there would be big problems if our so-called Western partners followed this mistaken — as I always said — policy.”
Russia is a long-standing ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which it is continuing to support militarily.
The West supports the mainstream opposition, which has been overtaken in many parts of the country by jihadist groups like the Islamic State (IS) that are being targeted by a US-led campaign of airstrikes.
Moscow, which is not part of the campaign, has proposed extending the anti-IS coalition to include Assad’s government and its allies — a suggestion that has been summarily dismissed by the West.
Putin on Friday fiercely criticised Europe’s foreign policy in the Middle East and in northern Africa, which he said was oblivious to local specificities.
“What is this policy? It’s an imposition of their standards, not taking into account historical, religious, national or cultural traits of those regions,” Putin said.
“It’s primarily the policy of our American partners,” Putin said, accusing Europe of “blindly following America’s orders.”
He also accused US media of being hypocritical in its reaction to the suffering of migrants arriving in Europe, many of them fleeing the war in Syria.
“I see with astonishment how some American media now criticises Europe for excessive cruelty, as they see it, to migrants,” Putin said.
The Russian leader stressed he was making the criticisms “not to say ‘look how clever we are, and how short-sighted our partners proved to be’.”
“We need to work out what to do,” he said.