EU Leaders Should Only Meet Putin Bilaterally, Estonia Says

European Union leaders should only meet with Vladimir Putin bilaterally, Estonia said after member states rejected a Franco-German proposal for a summit between the bloc and the Russian president.

Summits should be withheld because “Georgia is partially occupied and Ukraine is partially occupied,” the Baltic country’s president, Kersti Kaljulaid, told Bloomberg TV in an interview on Tuesday in New York. “Nothing has changed,” while a summit would “give an image as if things have returned to business as usual.”

Kaljulaid spoke after a backlash against the summit idea led by the EU’s eastern members, many of which fear potential Russian aggression after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The suggestion followed this month’s summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Putin in Geneva.

“The reality remains that many European states trust the U.S. not to betray its allies in any negotiations with Russia more than they trust Germany and France to do the same,” Jonathan Eyal, associate director for strategic research at Rusi, a defense think tank in the U.K., said Tuesday in a opinion piece. “If France and Germany wish to dispel suspicions about their motives, they mustn’t launch such initiatives at the last moment, with no prior consultation.”

Kaljulaid, who’s headed the EU, NATO and euro-member country since 2016, met with Putin in Moscow two years ago -- ending an almost decade-long hiatus in high-level meetings between Baltic presidents and Russia’s leader.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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