Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed a plan to hold a Russia-EU summit to improve ties between the two parties.
“We assess the initiative positively,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Putin is a supporter of creating mechanisms for dialogue and contacts between Brussels and Moscow.”
The suggestion was first presented by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Paris and Berlin stressed that restarting talks with Moscow will help in repairing ties.
“We as the European Union must also seek direct contact with Russia and the Russian president,” Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel told legislators on Thursday in the German Bundestag.
“It is not enough for the US president to talk to the Russian president. I very much welcome that, but the EU must also create forums for dialogue,” she added.
The new develpment 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.