The Dance That Made Headlines
In 2018, the world watched in amazement as Karin Kneissl, then Austria’s foreign minister, took to the dance floor with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding. This extraordinary event sent shockwaves through diplomatic circles and the media, raising questions about the neutrality of Austria, given the geopolitical tensions of the time.
An Unconventional Move
Karin Kneissl’s association with Russia did not end on the dance floor. Despite the controversy surrounding her wedding, she continued to make headlines. Just months after some European Union countries, excluding Austria, expelled Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Kneissl left her government position.
The French Connection
In September 2020, Kneissl made yet another unconventional move by relocating to France. There, she assumed the role of a guest columnist for Russia Today, a media outlet widely regarded as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin. This move added to her reputation as a highly controversial figure in her own country.
A Political Relocation
Fast forward to June 2022, and Karin Kneissl found herself making headlines once more. In a Telegram post, she expressed her astonishment at her relocation to Russia becoming a political issue. She explained how she had moved her belongings, including her books, clothes, and even her ponies, from Marseille to Beirut via DHL after feeling “banished” from France.
Setting Up Shop in Russia
Lebanon served as a temporary solution for Kneissl. She revealed that she traveled to Russia every six weeks for work, where she is now in the process of setting up a thinktank. This move aligns with her recent unveiling of the Gorki Centre, a thinktank affiliated with St Petersburg University, operating under her leadership. The thinktank’s primary objective is to contribute to shaping policies for the Russian Federation, with a particular focus on the Near and Middle East.
Kneissl’s journey has not been without challenges. Due to international sanctions, conventional means of transportation for her move to Russia were limited. She recounted how she had the option of accompanying a Russian transport flight from Syria to Russia, a choice she accepted with gratitude.
Ponies on a Military Aircraft
Adding a unique twist to her story, it was reported that Kneissl’s two ponies were flown to St Petersburg on a military aircraft from the Russian air base at Hmeimim in Syria. This unexpected turn of events further fueled intrigue surrounding her relocation.
A Role at Rosneft
In 2021, Kneissl assumed a position on the board of directors of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant. However, her tenure was short-lived, as she stepped down in May 2022. This decision came following a resolution by the European Parliament that threatened sanctions against Europeans holding positions on the boards of major Russian companies.
Karin Kneissl’s journey, from dancing with Putin to establishing a thinktank in Russia, is undeniably unconventional. Her story continues to capture global attention and raises questions about the complex web of international relations, diplomacy, and personal choices.