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Germany's Schaeuble says Putin fears Europe's model, is trying to divide its nations

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends a session during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Shanghai, China February 27, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

LONDON (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin fears Europe’s social and democratic model, and that Europe should resist his attempts to divide its countries.

Schaeuble said it was not the expansion of the European Union or NATO that worried Russia’s government, but Europe’s “soft power” moving closer to Russia’s borders.

“That’s why (Putin’s) trying to weaken Europe, by dividing us and tempting us to think only in narrow national terms, and we must not play into his hands,” Schaueble said at an event at the London School of Economics during a visit to the British capital.

Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and John Geddie, writing by Andy Bruce; Editing by Toby Chopra