Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the European Union’s initiative to create a financial mechanism for continuing trade with Iran despite US sanctions came late, but better late than never.
Putin made the remarks during an address to delegates at the Russia Energy Week Forum in Moscow.
The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal promised to establish a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports as part of efforts to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action after the US’ withdrawal.
The plan to create the special payment channel was first announced in a joint statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on September 24 in New York, after a ministerial meeting of Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear agreement.
“Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants [of the Monday meeting] welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports, including oil, and imports, which will assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran,” the statement read.
“The participants reaffirmed their strong will to support further work aimed at the operationalization of such a Special Purpose Vehicle as well as continued engagement with regional and international partners,” it added.
Putin said, “It came late, but it is better late than never… French President [Emmanuel Macron] has recently given a speech in New York and talked directly about the need to increase the EU’s economic sovereignty and reduce dependence on the United States. And this is right,”
On the price of oil, he said that it has risen because of the US “illegal” sanctions against one of the top OPEC producers, Iran.
Putin said that President Trump is “right” that global oil prices are too high – but he is to blame for higher prices.
He said on Wednesday it would be better if the US president did not intervene to try to manage oil markets.
“President Trump has said he thinks the oil price is too high. Well, probably to some extent he is right, but we are absolutely OK with it at $65 to $75 per barrel to ensure the efficient operation of oil companies and ensure investment,” Putin said.
“But let’s be frank, such oil prices are to some extent the result of the US administration. I’m talking about sanctions against Iran, about political problems in Venezuela and just looking at what’s happening in Libya.”
Putin added: “If we touched upon the topic we are discussing now with him (Trump), I would say, if you want to find the culprit of who’s guilty that prices are growing, then you should just have a look in the mirror.”
Putin’s comments come after Trump criticized Russia and OPEC for a 2016 deal in which they agreed to curb oil output in a bid to support prices that had slumped in mid-2014 due to a glut in the global supply.
Sputnik and Reuters contributed to this story.