EU leaders have been honing their diplomatic skills ahead of a potentially delicate meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland today. They are seeking a closer partnership with Moscow on energy but are under pressure to voice concerns about democracy in Russia and the country’s treatment of Georgia.
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker said: “Russia is a strategic partner for the European Union which will not prevent us from making remarks and observations that we would like to make, but this will develop during the meeting. It is always difficult to foresee how a meeting with Mr Putin will exactly develop.”
Diplomats say EU leaders are expected to press Putin for a quick and independent investigation into the recent killing of crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Also, this week, the EU criticised Moscow over its blockade of Georgia in an ongoing row between the ex-Soviet neighbours.
But Brussels also wants to lay the foundations of long-term cooperation on much-needed Russian oil and gas supplies.