Putin return plan ends reset 'illusions': Lithuanian PM

27th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Vladimir Putin's likely return as president of Russia should wipe out the West's "illusions" about a "reset" in ties with Moscow, Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said Tuesday.

"All 'reset' or renewal policies with Russia, and modernisation policies, should be put in a drawer with the simple label 'Naive dreams that have ended'," Kubilius told Lithuanian radio.

"We can see one positive thing. No one should have any illusions about the way Russia will be ruled in the coming decades," said Kubilius.

"This is nothing new to us. Maybe someone in Western capitals, such as Berlin, Brussels or Washington, had some illusions about seeing Russia moving to modernisation," he added.

"These illusions should have ended now," he insisted.

On Saturday, Moscow announced that Putin, currently prime minister, would stand for president in March 2012.

Putin, last president from 1999 to 2008, is almost certain to win a new six-year mandate.

If he serves the two maximum consecutive terms, he could stay in office until 2024, by which time he would be 72 and the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Washington has said the "reset" of US-Russian ties launched by President Barack Obama will go forward regardless of who Moscow's next president is.

In 1990, Lithuania was the first republic to secede from the Soviet Union, setting off a wave that led to the bloc's demise the following year -- a collapse that Putin has described as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

Kubilius was a Soviet-era independence campaigner.

Lithuania, which joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, has had rocky relations with Moscow since it broke free after five decades of Kremlin rule.

© 2011 AFP

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