French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for a summit between the European Union and Russia to restore cooperation between both sides.
The suggestion came a few days after a similar summit was held between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
The EU-Russian relations have witnessed a setback over several issues, mainly Kremlin-orchestrated cyber-attacks and election interference, the frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine, and the poisoning and jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the EU has imposed a set of tight sanctions on Russia.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, recently called to avoid further restrictive measures, because it would signal a continuing deterioration of relations.
“I would try to do my best in order to avoid it, showing at the same time the necessary strength to push back and constrain and the will to engage when necessary,” he said.
“We believe that a renewed partnership allowing us to realise the full potential of a close cooperation with Russia is a distant prospect,” Borrell told Reuters.
“The EU, therefore, needs to be realistic and prepare for a further downturn of our relations with Russia, which are right now at the lowest level. And this further downturn is the most likely outlook for the time being.”
However, critics of closer ties to the Kremlin warned that the suggested summit would strengthen Putin and his inner circle.
This came on a day when Russian forces claimed to have fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea close to Russian-occupied Crimea, a claim that the UK denied.