The EU foreign affairs chief is on her first official visit to Russia.
Federica Mogherini will meet her counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to discuss:
- bilateral relations and other issues
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, will pay a landmark visit to Russia on Monday.— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) 21 avril 2017
philippe_dam</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/euobs">euobshttps://t.co/CE1fwDr8BFpic.twitter.com/mCgjAprJna
HRVP Federica Mogherini starts the visit in Moscow by meeting 28 EU Member States ambassadors before seeing FM S.Lavrov. pic.twitter.com/kXRxJLG0pj— Vygaudas Ušackas (@Usackas_V) 24 avril 2017
Why is the visit significant?
Tensions are currently high between Moscow and the 28-member bloc.
Relations between the two parties have deteriorated since 2014 amid the crisis in Ukraine.
The EU and the US have introduced several rounds of sanctions against Moscow in response to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Russia has introduced counter-measures against the countries involved.
There are also differences of opinion over Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
What has Mogherini said?
Her office says she and Lavrov will “discuss the most pressing foreign-policy issues, in particular the conflict in Syria.”
Bilateral relations between Brussels and Moscow were on the agenda, as well as Syria, Libya, Iran, Ukraine and Crimea.
“The position of EU of not recognising the annexation of Crimea, this is a principled position we are going to keep, not only the European Union but also the other partners we have in the world.”
“We share the same approach, that access of humanitarian aid has to be improved, we count on Russian work including through the Astana process to help moving forward in this respect and we shared views on how to work more closely on the political solution of the war in Syria.”
What has the Russian Foreign Ministry said?
That Moscow “expects a substantive discussion on ways to restore cooperation with the European Union.”
“Russia-EU relations are going through a difficult period,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Anti-Russian sentiments are being actively fueled in Europe, the ministry said. There are also accusations that Russia is allegedly trying to influence the elections in some EU member states and weaken the bloc.
However, Moscow says it is ready to resume cooperation with the EU in different spheres and overcome existing challenges.
“We are ready for a full-scale resumption and active maintenance of the cooperation channels with the European Union in different spheres. We believe that there is a necessity to overcome the existing controversies. We are interested in the sustained, predictable and independent European Union, which remains our key trade and economic partner.”
Regarding Syria, Sergei Lavrov said:
“I expect that our colleagues from the European Union, in their work with the Ukrainian government, will strive for strict implementation of the Minsk agreements. From our side, we are ready to fulfill our part of the deal as guarantors of these agreements.”