In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press", Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer - who met with Vladimir Putin last week - said that the Russian President “believes he is winning the war” almost two months after Russia invaded Ukraine. Nehammer, said that the Russian leader told him that the war is “necessary,” even though Western sanctions have had an impact.
“[Putin] thinks the war is necessary for security guarantees for the Russian Federation,” Nehammer said. “He doesn’t trust the international community, he blames Ukrainians for genocides in the Donbas region."
“So he is now in his world, but I think he knows what is going on now in Ukraine.”
Nehammer added that Putin told him in German that it was “better the war ends earlier than later,” which led the Austrian leader to believe the Russian president knows “exactly what is going on now.”
The Austrian chancellor, who was the first Western leader to sit down with Putin since the start of the invasion due to his country's traditionally close ties with Russia, emphasized the need to confront Putin on alleged war crimes and the need for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine. Nehammer previously visited Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nehammer also said on “Meet the Press” that he does not believe Putin will use nuclear weapons, adding that the Russian leader “knows the threat of this weapon.”
While Austria is not a member of NATO, it has backed sanctions against Russia as a member of the European Union. Austria has expressed no desire to join NATO, unlike other currently neutral nations such as Finland and Sweden.