March 14 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Germany’s response to a pipeline explosion in the North Sea showed the country remained “occupied” and unable to act independently decades after it capitulated at the end of World War Two.
Putin said, in an interview with Russian television, that European leaders are tired of losing their sense of sovereignty and independence.
Western countries, including Germany, have responded cautiously to investigations into explosions that hit Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, saying they believed it was a deliberate act, but declined to say who they believed was responsible.
“The thing is that European politicians themselves said publicly that after World War II Germany was not a fully sovereign country,” Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling state television channel Rossiya-1.
“The Soviet Union at one point withdrew its forces and ended what amounted to an occupation of the country. But this, as you know, was not the case with the Americans. They continue to occupy Germany.”
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Putin told the interviewer that the bombings were carried out “at the state level” and dismissed it as “complete nonsense” that an independent pro-Ukrainian group was responsible.
The pipelines were intended to bring Russian gas to Germany, although since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Berlin has taken steps to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.
Leaders in Berlin have been cautious about assigning blame for the bombings, with Defense Minister Boris Pistorius saying last week that the explosions could be a “false operation to blame Ukraine”.
(Reporting by Ron Popesky) Editing by Angus McEwan
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