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Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a “new philosophy of international relations,” and an end to restrictions on the amount of oil and natural gas his nation can supply to Western Europe, according to official Russian sources.

“There’s a need for a new realization of the world process,” Putin stated and urged the European Union to remove limitations on the amount of energy imports from Russia, calling the restrictions “hardly justified” in view of the new relationship growing between Russia and the EU.

Putin’s remarks were carried by the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.

Russia’s relations with Germany, the acknowledged economic powerhouse of Europe and traditionally America’s closest ally in Europe, is now at a “new level.”

Germany and Russia are now “strategic partners,” according to the Voice of Russia broadcast.

Putin met with Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for a two-day summit April 9 and 10, 2002, during which the Russian debt to Germany was slashed from an estimated $1.2 billion to 500 million Euros, about $440 million. The debt originated from money owed to the old East Germany by the now defunct Soviet Union.

Both Western European and Russian politicians have stressed the need for a new approach to foreign relations following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR more than a decade ago.

Many Western politicians have become increasingly dissatisfied with U.S. leadership of Western nations, as memory of the Cold War period recedes.

As Putin calls for a “new philosophy of international relations,” Russia has forged ahead with Belarus, a nation led by Alexander Lukashenko, an admirer of Joseph Stalin, and the object of accusations ranging from political manipulation to murder.

The day following his meeting with Schroeder, Putin met with Lukashenko in Moscow during a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union of Russia and Belarus.

Lukashenko holds the title of Chairman of the Supreme State Council of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, as well as President of the Republic of Belarus.

The Council consists of the presidents, prime ministers, and parliamentary speakers of Russia and Belarus.

The treaty establishing the Union State received Putin’s enthusiastic support when it came before the Russian legislature in 1999, which superseded an earlier Union State agreement signed on April 2, 1996.

Although at present comprising only Russia and Belarus, the Union State treaty allows other states to join the Union.

Both Moldova’s communist government, and Kirgizia, under the leadership of its pro-leftist leader Askar Akayev, have expressed their intent to join the Union, and various political forces in Ukraine are working to have their nation join the Union State.

Yugoslavia, under the rule of Slobodan Milosevic, had observer status in the Union, and sought full membership.

Some observers have speculated that the Union State could become the foundation for a new – and more dynamic – socialist-communist state.

Putin acknowledged that the process of establishing the Union State was “difficult,” but stated that he advocated “deeper integration” of Russia and Belarus.

The areas addressed by the Supreme State Council include a common Russian-Belarusian defense, foreign policy, budget, and constitution, as well as the integration of the Russian and Belarusian economies.

Although decrying the slow pace involved in completing the union of Russia and his nation, Lukashenko nevertheless declared that he and Putin agreed on “all” substantive matters during their meeting.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the April 2, 1996 Union treaty – a public holiday in Belarus known as the Day of Unity – Lukashenko issued a statement to his nation proclaiming that “six years ago we firmly chose the integration road, and time has proven the correctness of this course.”

The Belarusian president’s press service released a message from Putin commemorating the anniversary, which, in part, stated that “The strategic partnership potential gained by our two countries … allow (sic) us to find optimal solutions in the construction of the Union State.”

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