President Vladimir Putin is special guest at a gathering of the leaders of the European Union, in Finland. The 25 said they had formed a common front over dealings with Russia in the energy sector. This was before going in to dinner with Putin. The leaders hope to further address human rights with him. Relations with Moscow are an important part of the Lahti meeting.
Agency reports say the upcoming German EU presidency will pursue ratification by Russia of an international energy charter governing transit, investment and market competition. Moscow is holding out. The EU is keen to be heard to be speaking with one voice.
But the 25 Member States hold different views on how strong an approach to take towards Russia in highly sensitive areas. The EU launched unusually sharp criticism this week, urging the Kremlin to stop the harassment of Georgians in Russia and a trade and transport blockade of the former Soviet republic.
Moscow has blamed what it calls inflammatory rhetoric and military build-ups in Georgia. Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said several leaders had asked him to put this matter on the dinner agenda. They have also been expected to raise questions over the Kremlin-critical journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s murder.