France and Germany have suggested inviting Vladimir Putin to a summit with the EU as part of a broader reset of the bloc’s relations with Russia.
Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel’s proposal comes after Joe Biden’s Geneva summit with the Russian president, and supporters of the idea argue that European leaders can deliver the same direct messages about Russian behavior while keeping the door open to compromise and cooperation.
Critics of the closer ties with the Kremlin fear it will reward Putin at a time when he once again ramps up pressure on Ukraine, and Russia has been accused of stepping up cyber attacks against the United States and its countries. allies. It came on a day when Russian forces claimed to have fired warning shots at a British warship in the Black Sea near Russia-occupied Crimea, a claim the UK denied.
The EU has not held a summit with Putin since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and has imposed multiple levels of sanctions on Russia.
“We have to discuss how to get out of this negative spiral … but we have to move forward united,” the Reuters news agency said, citing a senior EU diplomat, while noting that there could be opposition to a summit of the Baltic member states. .
It was not immediately clear whether the proposal would involve all 27 EU leaders or just EU Director General Ursula von der Leyen and its President Charles Michel.
Biden and Putin met for three hours in Geneva on June 16, both saying the meeting was worth it while expressing grievances against their respective countries. They agreed that their officials would meet more often in a strategic stability dialogue and explore the possibility of working on a new arms control agreement.
“It seems to me that given that Biden has just met Putin and has been very frank with him, it’s hard to say that it’s even a bad idea to meet,” said Constanze Stelzenmueller, senior researcher at Brookings. Institution.
“I think if it’s done like Biden, I don’t have a problem with that because I think there has to be direct messaging because the Russians are going to continue to misread us otherwise.” “
The Franco-German proposal was unveiled as US Secretary of State Tony Blinken embarked on a tour of European capitals, aimed at strengthening ties between US-European politics.
Blinken was in Berlin on Wednesday to meet with Merkel to discuss common policy on Libya and other issues. He must go to Paris for a meeting with Macron and then to Rome.