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Borel said the EU should prepare for a “further decline” in relations with Moscow –

The EU’s chief diplomat Joseph Borrell said in his submission to the European Commission’s proposal on a new strategy for EU-Russia relations on Wednesday (June 16) that close cooperation with Russia is a “distant prospect” and that the EU should consider relations with Moscow Be prepared for further deterioration. .

Earlier this week, U.S. President Joe Biden held consultations with European allies and held a highly anticipated meeting in Switzerland with Russian President Vladimir Putin, after which the EU’s strategy for Russia was announced.

After the European Union imposed sanctions on the arrest of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, relations with Moscow fell to the bottom. The Russian authorities targeted Brussels officials to fight back, while the Czech Republic accused the Russian military. The intelligence agency was responsible for two explosions in a weapon depot in 2014.

Wednesday’s report aims to buy time for the EU summit from June 24 to 25, when a comprehensive plan for Moscow may be proposed, but leaders said it is difficult to agree on a joint position among the 27 EU countries.

In May, EU leaders Tasked Borel prepared a report on Russia, similar to the report on Turkey submitted in March, which elaborated in more detail about possible measures against Ankara, including sanctions, if relations deteriorate.

Borel said that “the Russian government’s deliberate policy choices over the past few years have created a negative spiral in our relations” and warned that the EU “needs to be realistic and prepare for a further decline in our relations with Russia. It’s correct.” It’s at the lowest level now. “

He added: “This is the most likely prospect of further decline at the moment.”

At present, the EU’s policy towards Russia has five principles: full implementation of the Minsk Agreement; closer relations with Russia’s neighbors of the former Soviet Union; strengthening the EU’s resistance to Russian threats; selective engagement with Russia on specific issues such as counter-terrorism ; And support the connection between people.

In addition, the EU also intends to “counterattack” the “human rights violations” and “consistent violations of international law” in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere.

To this end, the European Commission intends to “limit” Russia’s “attempts to undermine the interests of the EU”, and proposes to make the EU “more powerful and resilient” and strengthen its “anti-mixing toolbox” to “respond more malicious acts “. In a systematic and joint way”.

This also includes working with like-minded partners such as NATO and the Group of Seven, as well as with Eastern partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine — through EU Union agreements, other trade treaties, and continued “significant economic support” .

The strategy document emphasizes that the EU “resolutely rejects Russia’s pursuit of the privileged sphere of influence of these neighboring countries”.

At the same time, the EU intends to “engage with Russia” on several “key challenges”, including climate change, fighting the pandemic, and public health.

“Despite Russia’s attempts to divide us, the EU has shown unity time and time again,” Borel said. “This kind of unity is still our greatest asset and needs to be stronger.”

North Stream 2, unresolved

However, in recent years, due to Germany’s insistence on the controversial Beixi 2 gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea, the EU’s efforts to counter Moscow’s tough attitude have been hindered.

Although the Kremlin has stated that it will continue to use Ukraine as a natural gas transit country, the pipeline will bypass Ukraine and may deprive Kiev of its lucrative transit revenue when it falls into confrontation with Moscow.

When asked about Nord Stream 2 and whether it is time to abandon the pipeline project, Borrell emphasized that the project was “not initiated by the European Union”.

“Beixi 2 is not an EU project. It is not funded by the EU. This is a German project,” Borrell told reporters.

Instead, he emphasized the “advantages provided by our energy transition.”

Borrell said: “It is obvious that if we do apply what we will apply in the climate and energy fields, then the consumption of hydrocarbons will drop significantly,” including oil and natural gas.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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