So they should be. It is increasingly clear that the goal of including Russia as a normal European state is an illusion. Russian heavy handedness in Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, and against the Russian press are but a few examples. The assassination of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and a wave of contract style murders have heightened suspicions about Putin's intentions in Russia.
Russian control of the energy sector and its impact on Europe is causing increasing concern. Moscow has recently questioned contracts signed in the 1990s by companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Total. This month it also shut foreign capital out of the development of the huge Shtokman gas field. This while a cash rich Russia is seeking partnership with European defense giant EADS.
The Financial Times published a concise account of a "strained summit dinner" in Lahti, Finland. Some of the guests were direct with Putin.
“We offer security in contracts and we expect the same from Russia, namely also legal security in contracts and access to the Russian market,” Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said before the dinner.
Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister, called for a “two-way street” in investment, in spite of criticism that he has already signalled that Gazprom could be considered as a buyer for Centrica, the British gas company, without reciprocal market opening in Russia.
Mr Putin said that he had no intention of bowing to European demands that Russia should open Gazprom’s pipelines to other companies, as required under the energy charter treaty, which Russia has signed but has not ratified.
From other surces it is obvious the Europeans were trying to persuade Putin to bring down the tension with neighboring Georgia. They were not successful.
"The issue does not lie between Russia and Georgia, the issue is between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia," Putin said. "To our regret and fear, it is heading for a bloodbath. Georgia wants to resolve the disputes with military action."
He said that the recent deterioration of relations between Moscow and Tbilisi, sparked by Georgia's arrest of four Russian army officers on spying charges, had been fabricated for political purposes.
"The initiative to worsen relations originated not from Russia," he added.
His comments were "not really surprising," according to a European diplomat, who categorised them as "verbal rhetoric."
There will be further trouble in that area. It will affect energy as well as planned Nato expnsion. Putin likes to telegraph his punches. The EU has no choice but to deal with Putin and Russia for their energy needs. They are as vulnerable and dependent on imported energy as the is the US . Putin is determined to use energy as a wedge and a hammer in his dealing with Europe. The sooner Europe and the US see energy dependence as unacceptable, the better. A US and European commitment to developing alternative energy sources outside of Russia and the Middle East is urgent.