Putin says Germany remains 'occupied'
(Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Germany's response to the explosion on North Sea pipelines showed that the country remained "occupied" and unable to act independently decades after its surrender at the end of World War Two.
Putin, interviewed on Russian television, also said European leaders had been browbeaten into losing their sense of sovereignty and independence.
Western countries, including Germany, have reacted cautiously to investigations into the blasts which hit Russia's Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, saying they believe they were a deliberate act, but declining to say who they think was responsible.
"The matter is that European politicians have said themselves publicly that after World War Two, Germany was never a fully sovereign state," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as telling state Rossiya-1 TV channel.
"The Soviet Union at one point withdrew its forces and ended what amounted to an occupation of the country. But that, as is well known, was not the case with the Americans. They continue to occupy Germany."
Putin told the interviewer that the blasts were carried out on a "state level" and dismissed as "complete nonsense" suggestions that an autonomous pro-Ukraine group was responsible.
The pipelines were intended to bring Russian gas to Germany, though since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago Berlin has taken steps to reduce its reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.
Leaders in Berlin have been careful about apportioning blame for the explosions, with Defence Minister Boris Pistorius saying last week the blasts could have been a "false-flag operation to blame Ukraine".
(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Angus MacSwan)