Sunday

22nd Apr 2018

Russia to EU: Stay out of Syria, back off on Gazprom

Vladimir Putin has made clear that he will not budge an inch on Syria ahead of an EU-Russia summit.

Speaking in separate press events in Berlin and Paris on Friday (1 June), the Russian leader ruled out lifting his UN Security Council veto on economic sanctions or military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Putin (r) and Medvedev: Medvedev's reform promises failed to materialise (Photo: kremlin.ru)

He also blamed civilian deaths on opposition forces and denied that Russia is selling arms to Damascus.

"Russia does not provide weapons that could be used in a civil conflict," he said in the German capital.

"How many peaceful civilians were killed by the opposite side? Did you count? The count goes into the hundreds there too. Our goal is to make peace between the sides of the conflict," he noted later in the French capital when asked about the recent massacre in Houla, western Syria.

He also criticised Western adventurism in general, noting that Nato is pressing ahead with plans for missile interceptors in Europe in what Russia sees as a threat to its nuclear deterrent.

"They promised us they would not expand Nato, then they promised not to deploy bases, but Nato is expanding and moving east and bases are springing up like mushrooms," he said.

Top EU officials Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso and Catherine Ashton began one of their regular, twice-yearly Russia summits with a dinner on Sunday in a tsarist palace on the outskirts of St Petersburg.

The EU's energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger and Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak are also taking part.

"I am now at the EU-Russia Summit and Syria is one of the key issues we will discuss," Ashton said in a statement published the same day.

In terms of EU-level business, Putin is expected: to urge the EU to back down on a law which could force Russian energy champion Gazprom to sell assets in Europe; to seek EU endorsement for Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project; to rethink another EU law on forcing foreign airlines to pay CO2 emissions taxes; and to speed up work on EU-Russia visa-free travel.

For its part, the EU is keen to find out if Putin still backs the Partnership for Modernisation, what he plans to do about a new EU-Russia strategic treaty and about the "Eurasian Union."

Barroso launched the modernisation scheme - a plan for swapping high-end EU technology in return for political reform in Russia - with Putin's predecessor Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

But there were no reforms in the Medvedev years despite the deal.

An EU official told EUobserver ahead of the summit that Moscow does not really listen to Brussels on democracy and the rule of law. "It's above our paygrade," the contact said.

The new EU-Russia treaty is to replace an extant bilateral agreement which dates back to 1995, but talks have been making little progress.

Meanwhile, Putin's Eurasian Union is designed to draw Belarus, Ukraine and Central Asian countries into an EU-type construction in competition with the Union's plans to protect Belarusian independence and to draw Ukraine closer to the West.

A Russian diplomat told this website the Eurasian Union is the main "ideological vision" of Putin's current presidency after he spent his first two terms in office establishing a new post-Soviet order in the country.

He added on the pace of post-Soviet integration: "There is a Russian saying: It takes a long time to saddle a horse, but then it gallops away."

Putin is to travel to Uzbekistan shortly after wrapping up the EU talks at lunchtime on Monday.

Lukashenko trying to outwit EU and Russia

Selling arms firms from yourself to yourself, labelling petrol as solvents then petrol again - Lukashenko is trying to make a living while being squeezed by the EU and Russia.

Analysis

Is Germany more hawkish on Russia?

Germany's socialist foreign minister just said the EU should "step up pressure" on Russia. Merkel aired "political" doubts on a Russian pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists