07:39 GMT25 July 2021
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    Media reported earlier that France and Germany proposed a "structured discussion" between EU leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and are trying to persuade the opposing EU nations to present a united face in the talks. The reports were officially confirmed by EU foreign policy chief Borrell.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said he believes that a conversation between the EU and Russia is required to protect the bloc's stability and interests.

    Macron told reporters on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday that Russia was discussed at the meeting, which was attended by all 27 European presidents, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel.

    "We assume this dialogue is necessary for the stability of the European continent and to defend our interests as Europe. I think this is the right way to move forward," he said.

    The French president noted that the likely dialogue will proceed according to demanding European standards.

    "It will be demanding because we will not give up any of our values," he added.

    "We cannot remain in a purely reactive logic with regard to Russia on a case-by-case basis," Macron stressed, apparently referring to the EU and Russia's outstanding contentious issues, such as the Crimea issue, Western accusations of human rights violations against opposition figures in Russia, and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. "I hope that we can, with real European unity and coordination, have this ...dialogue."

    Macron said the first EU summit with Putin since January 2014 would be a chance for conversation revival, especially in light of the constructive summit between Putin and US President Joe Biden last week, and earned support from Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

    © Sputnik / Alexey Nikolsky
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during the official ceremony at the Elysee Palace.
    According to a draft of the summit declaration reported by Reuters, EU leaders nevertheless will ask the European Commission and the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell for "options for additional restrictive measures, including economic sanctions" against Russia.

    Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in 2014, the EU imposed economic sanctions on the Russian energy, financial, and arms industries, as well as individual sanctions against Russian officials. Moscow has repeatedly stressed the double standards of such measures and their lack of any legal basis, noting that the sanctions are counterproductive for EU-Russia relations.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that the EU and Russia share responsibility for the future of the region and need to show political will for cooperation based on mutual interests. Only through such joint efforts the sustainable development and security of the European continent can be achieved, the minister concluded.

    The Russian top diplomat said that Moscow is hopeful that the deteriorated relations with the European Union can be reversed back to normal if the West abandons its antagonistic propaganda and engages in mutually respectful dialogue.

    Over the years, the EU has been chastised by some for its lack of cohesion in its reaction to relations with the Kremlin. But, despite all the sanctions and active opposition to contacts on the part of Poland and the Baltic states, relations between Moscow and Europe have continued to develop in the practical mainstream of trade and joint economic projects.

    Macron's comments came just as tensions escalated between London and Moscow in the Black Sea after the UK's HMS Defender approached within around 10 nautical miles of the Crimean shoreline and roughly 15 kilometers of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's home base in Sevastopol, putting the warship about two nautical miles inside Russian waters.

    A Russian border patrol vessel fired warning shots after the British destroyer crossed Russian maritime borders, and a Su-24M attack aircraft carried out a fake bombing run against the warship, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated. The Russian government also called the UK's actions a provocation.

    As per British officials, the warship was making "innocent passage" through "Ukrainian territorial seas," though they have provided a series of conflicting and contradictory claims about the destroyer's conduct during the incident.

    A still image taken from a video released by Russia's Defence Ministry allegedly shows British Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender filmed from a Russian military aircraft in the Black Sea, June 23, 2021
    © Photo : RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
    A still image taken from a video released by Russia's Defence Ministry allegedly shows British Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender filmed from a Russian military aircraft in the Black Sea, June 23, 2021

    On Thursday, the Russian envoy to the Vienna talks on military security and arms control Konstantin Gavrilov warned the UK that Russia may drop bombs on British warships if they test it again in the Black Sea.

    "... next time bombs — if we do choose to go that way — will be dropped on target and not in a ship’s path," Gavrilov said.

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    bilateral cooperation, bilateral contacts, bilateral visits, bilateral talks, bilateral ties, bilateral ties, Europe, euro, EU, Russia, Emmanuel Macron, Macron, France
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