Russian and European Union leaders have begun talks in Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, that are likely to be dominated by a dispute over the Kremlin’s ban on EU vegetable imports. This overshadows Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation this year. Moscow imposed the ban, it said, as a preventive measure against the risk of a deadly outbreak of E.coli poisoning, centred in Germany.
An eventual new deal for cooperation in trade, energy, investment and visa-free travel is making slow progress. A Russian analyst said that, in any case, Moscow long ago gave up hope of securing major agreements at these bi-annual summits, even though the EU is Russia’s largest trade partner.
The European Parliament has also asked that human rights concerns be addressed in Nizhny Novgorod.