A summit between the European Union and Russia has been reduced in size and scope, and a dinner with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has been cancelled.
The long-planned summit was meant to take place over two days (27-28 January) but has now been reduced to a three-hour “restricted meeting among principles and key advisors,” according to a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief. This decision has been taken “in light of the recent developments”.
The meeting on 28 January will now focus on an “in-depth reflection” on the headline issues rather than specific issues, she said.
The decision comes in the wake of Ukraine’s decision to withdraw from a trade partnership with the EU, after intense pressure from Russia. The EU has also been angered by Russian pressure on other former Soviet states such as Armenia, which also decided to shun a partnership agreement with the EU.
EU leaders are also under pressure to voice concerns over Russia’s human rights record, including a law banning the promotion of homosexuality, and the treatment of journalists.
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The meeting will be attended by Putin, Ashton, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.