Cossacks and Flowers as Putin Dances at Austrian Minister’s Wedding

Reuters
By Reuters
August 18, 2018World News
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Cossacks and Flowers as Putin Dances at Austrian Minister’s Wedding
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with French Senate president at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 5, 2016. (Ivan Sekretarev/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm-in-arm with Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl at her wedding on Saturday, after receiving an invitation.

Putin arrived in a car carrying a bouquet of flowers and accompanied, local media said, by a troupe of Cossack singers booked to serenade the newlyweds. He was on a stopover on his way to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside Berlin.

Photographs showed Kneissl, 53, smiling in a long white and cream “dirndl” dress and talking to Putin as they danced in a vineyard in southern Styria province, the venue of her wedding to entrepreneur Wolfgang Meilinger. Putin–who made a toast in German at the wedding, according to the Kremlin–was pictured listening to her intently.

Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl celebrates her wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)
Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl celebrates her wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)

The invitation surprised many in Vienna and Moscow, particularly at a time when the European Union is at odds with Russia over its annexation of the Crimea region from Ukraine, and other issues.

“It was a nice trip,” Putin said ahead of the talks with Merkel. “It was a private visit.”

Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl dances with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at her wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)
Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl dances with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at her wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his conservatives, who control Austria’s EU policy, have said Austria will toe the EU line—though they have also pointed to Austria’s history of neutrality and its relatively warm relations with Russia. Kurz also attended the wedding.

Strache, who joined Austria’s governing coalition last year, praised Kneissl on Saturday as a “bridge builder” as he congratulated the married couple and wished them “all the luck in the world and eternal love!”

Austria's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and her groom Wolfgang Meilinger celebrate their wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)
Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl and her groom Wolfgang Meilinger celebrate their wedding in Gamlitz, Austria on August 18, 2018. (Roland Schlager/Pool)

“The international coverage of Putin’s visit would bring priceless publicity,” he added. “A better advertisement for Austria, its wonderful nature, dreamlike landscape and real life hospitality cannot exist!”

Putin traveled to Germany later on Saturday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks about Syria, Ukraine, and energy matters.

Putin visited Austria in June on his first trip to the West after being re-elected as president.

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