Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a guest at the wedding of Karin Kneissl, Austrian Foreign Minister.
Unaffiliated with any political faction, Kneissl was appointed by the Freedom Party, a party with official links to United Russia, the party of Putin. The 53-year-old Kneissl will be wedding multi-millionaire entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger, 54 in the province of Styria.
It is the first time that the Russian leader will be attending a wedding party of a European dignitary, even though Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted that Putin has visited foreign private events before, RT reported.
Putin is expected to be the only senior foreign dignitary at the wedding. The opposition press in Austria has expressed outrage at the invitation and has has called for Kneissel’s resignation.
The Russian leader is set to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later the same day. Interestingly, the same media outlets have not called for Merkel’s resignation because she will be meeting with Putin.
The local tourist board of Styria where the wedding will be held, has meanwhile complained of being inundated with calls demanding to know where and when the Russian leader will appear exactly.
Styrian police has described the large security operation as a “great challenge”. According to the Vienna newspaper Kronen Zeitung, the elite Austrian Cobra unit will be deploying snipers, while the Russian delegation will be paying for its own security arrangements.
Austria has notably abstained from the diplomatic expulsions related to the Skripal case, while most countries the European Union complied with British demands after what is believed to have been a poisoning hoax.
Putin’s visit is rumoured to be about Europe’s role in the unfolding energy wars. “The Russian-German link Nord Stream 2 is increasingly becoming a political issue. In addition to military spending, this issue dominated the NATO summit on 12 July,” Kneissl noted in July when she extended the invitation to Putin.
“Instead of allowing for supply and demand, price formation and business decisions in a market-driven sense, we are currently experiencing massive political interference again. The free play of market forces hardly takes place.
“It is also significant that the EU is prepared to import more liquefied gas to avert a trade war with the US,” she said, even if LNG supply is a lot more expensive than gas pipelines.
“In order not to become wedged between the US, Russia and China, an EU foreign and energy policy based on its own interests is now neccessary,” Kneissl added.
Kneissl studied law and Arabic studies in Vienna. She is versed in the key issues of Middle Eastern and energy policies. Since December 2017 she has served as Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.