On Wednesday, Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s 31-year-old chancellor, threw his support behind a controversial project that would flood Europe’s energy market with Russian gas and solidify the European Union’s dependence on Moscow’s energy supplies: the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Kurz, Europe’s youngest leader and head of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP), became chancellor in December. And at a time when many Western and Northern European countries are looking for ways to counter Russian interference in their domestic affairs, he has positioned himself as a friend to Moscow. Kurz came out in support of improving Europe’s relationship with Russia and supporting Russian policy positions on a variety of issues. Analysts say that the new, young leader wants to demonstrate his independence from the rest of the EU but that he’s picked a poor time to throw his weight behind Russia. “He wants to see himself as a conduit for Moscow, and [Russia] will use his visit to show divisions in Europe. If I were a European leader, I’d be concerned about this visit,” Mark Simakovsky, an expert on NATO at the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, told Newsweek. “It comes as Russia supports the shelling of civilian areas in Syria and… Read full this story
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