EU, Russia cancel planned dinner, cut summit short
Brussels: European Union leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin have cancelled a joint dinner and cut a long-planned summit short in the wake of their confrontation over Ukraine`s future.
The summit was initially meant to start with the dinner and last until the following afternoon, but now the meeting with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and others in Brussels on January 28 will only last about 2 ½ hours, the EU said today.
The format has been changed "in light of the recent developments," and participants will have an "in-depth reflection" about the EU-Russia relationship rather than a discussion about specific issues, Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.
Russia in November lured Ukraine with financial incentives, including a USD 15-billion bailout loan, to snub the 28-nation bloc and seek closer cooperation with Moscow instead. The Ukrainian leadership`s last-minute decision to side with Russia sparked weeks-long anti-government protests in Kiev and elsewhere in the country. The protests drew hundreds of thousands in the early weeks, and drew more than 20,000 into the streets on Sunday.
EU leaders have also been upset by Russia`s efforts to lure other eastern European neighbours like Armenia back into its political and economic orbit and by what they say is the use of trade policies to discriminate against the EU`s easternmost members along Russia`s borders.
Russia remains a very important player on many international matters, such as Syria and Iran. And Russia and the European Union have very close economic ties and at times shared political interests, so neither side apparently wanted to cancel the summit which will be the 31st and shortest such meeting since the late 1990s.
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