Russia’s spat with EU puts relations into deep-freeze
Kremlin stance is blow to European countries which favour outreach to Moscow. Russia’s combative treatment of the EU’s top diplomat during a landmark trip there has triggered a political outcry — but little expectation that the European bloc will end divisions over how to handle the Kremlin.
Most observers say the EU-Russia spat will freeze already icy relations even harder and increase the chances that the Europeans will move towards sanctions over Russia’s detention of Alexei Navalny, the opposition activist.
But few see it as likely to trigger a fundamental shift by powerful member states led by Germany and France to a more aggressive policy, given economic, energy and strategic interests in play.
“The results are worse than thin — non-existent really,” said Tatiana Kastouéva-Jean, Russia expert at the French international relations institute Ifri, of the French leader’s overtures. “The only thing Russia wants from this dialogue is for the EU to change its behaviour. Russia is not willing to change its own behaviour at all.”
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