European Council President Charles Michel on Monday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow must stop its destructive stance if it is to improve relations with the European Union.
After Russia moved away from European standards in recent months, the former Belgian prime minister is on the phone with the Russian president, to whom he has sent a “message of unity” from the 27.
“The downward trend in EU-Russia relations can only change if Russia abandons its destructive stance,” Michel said in a message on Twitter after the meeting. In this regard, Putin was ugly by Russia’s illegal and destructive activities against the EU and its member states, lamenting that EU-Russia relations “have bottomed out”.
“This low point in the relationship or its deterioration is in nobody’s interest,” said the Council President, as the institution itself announced in a statement. The conversation comes a few weeks after the leaders of the 27 determined the direction of relations and when Brussels and Moscow clashed on issues such as the crisis in Belarus, the situation of the opposition Alexei Navalni and the suppression of demonstrations in his favor or the Russian military operation on the Ukrainian border.
However, no major changes are expected in the direction that EU leaders will take, as they believe in Brussels that the five principles that defined European diplomacy in Federica Mogherini’s time should take precedence. This is a strategy of containment with Russia and strengthening ties with the Eastern Neighborhood while promoting selective cooperation on issues of common concern.
With this in mind, Michel stressed to the Kremlin the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as Russia’s responsibility in implementing the Minsk Agreement to end the war in the east of the country.
In May, the bloc’s leaders held a strategic debate on the future of relations with Russia, asking High Representative Josep Borrell and the European Commission for a report that will serve as the basis for decisions at the June summit.