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  Russia and the EU

  22 Debates

The European Parliament has declared Russia to be a state sponsor of terrorism. The resolution, which accuses Moscow of "deliberate attacks and atrocities" against the civilian population in Ukraine, was approved by a clear majority of 494 MEPs, with 58 votes against it and 44 abstentions. Europe's press discusses the consequences.

More than two years after the so-called Berlin park murder, the man accused of the crime has been sentenced to life in prison. According to the verdict, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian citizen, was murdered on behalf of the Russian state, aided by "helpers stationed in Berlin". After the verdict was handed down, the German government expelled two Russian diplomats. What must happen now?

Russia is suspending its diplomatic mission to the Nato headquarters in Brussels until further notice. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the military alliance's offices in Moscow will also be closed on 1 November. The Kremlin cited the Alliance's decision to withdraw accreditation from Russian diplomats on suspicion of espionage as the reason for the move. Europe's press voices concern.

The Russian Duma has passed a law that reserves the term "shampanskoye" - as all sparkling wine is called in Russian - for Russian products only. All others, including champagne from the French Champagne region, must henceforth be declared as "Igristoye vino" (sparkling wine). Europe's press goggles, jokes and scolds.

In an effort to underline the EU's independence in foreign policy after the Biden-Putin summit, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron proposed holding a meeting with Russia shortly before the EU summit last week. However, the initiative failed mainly due to opposition from Poland and the Baltic states. Other member states also felt they were being pressured into something they didn't want.

Shortly before the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron suggested a meeting between EU leaders and Vladimir Putin in the near future. But in Brussels, the proposal was rejected as premature, in particular by Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Europe's media are also divided on the question of what approach to take with Moscow.

The Czech Republic and Russia are locked in a diplomatic dispute following the revelation of a Russian intelligence operation that led to the explosion of a Czech ammunition depot in 2014. Both sides have expelled staff at each other's embassies. Now Czech President Miloš Zeman has broken his silence and voiced doubts about the investigators' findings. What is going on?

In the wake of Josep Borrell's ill-starred visit to Moscow, the EU Foreign Affairs Council is due to reach a decision on sanctions against Russia on February 22. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warned that his country was ready to break off relations with the EU if certain sanctions were imposed, although the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry later weakened this statement. Commentators assess Moscow's stance.

The Council of Europe has restored the Russian delegation's voting rights at its Parliamentary Assembly. Russia's rights were removed following its annexation of Crimean in 2014. Ukraine fiercely opposed the decision, as did some Baltic states. Was the resolution a good move?

The Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid will travel to Moscow on 18 April for the inauguration of the restored Estonian embassy. While there she will also meet with Vladimir Putin. Is a rapprochement with Russia foolish or wise?

A year ago the Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in the English city of Salisbury with the chemical nerve agent novichok. Moscow refutes any involvement in the attempted murder even though it has been proven that Russian agents were in the city on the day the poisoning occurred. It wasn't just the former agent and his daughter who suffered as a result of the poisoning, commentators conclude.

Germany has prevented a revision of the EU gas pipeline directive that could have stopped the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Paris had indicated it would back tougher rules, putting pressure on Berlin to negotiate a compromise that imposes certain restrictions on the pipeline. Has Germany lost credibility while Russia carries on regardless?

The centre-right coalition in Latvia has lost its majority after general elections. The pro-Russia opposition party Saskaņa (Harmony) won the most votes and three parties won seats in parliament for the first time. In view of this fragmentation the formation of a new government is likely to be difficult. Journalists examine what this means for the Baltic state.

In April of this year the Netherlands expelled four Russians who were allegedly involved in an attempt to hack the computer network of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague, the Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday. It suspects that the Russian intelligence agency GRU was behind the attack. How should Europe react to Russian cyber-attacks?

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to German Chancellor Angel Merkel in Berlin for the first time since 2012. Together with the French and Ukrainian presidents they agreed on a plan of action for Eastern Ukraine. Merkel also criticised Russia's "inhuman" actions in the Syrian war. But without a strategic vision, Europe's leaders are powerless against Putin, commentators complain.

The Russian Defence Ministry has invited representatives of Nato to Moscow to discuss security in the Baltic Sea region. Russia wants an agreement under which the military aircraft of both sides will only be allowed to fly over the Baltic with their transponders switched on. Commentators all agree that Nato should respond positively to Moscow's invitation to talk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Athens on Friday marked the leader's first trip to an EU country in more than a year. He and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced plans to tighten the economic and political ties between their countries. The visit is a thorn in the side of commentators from Eastern Europe.

The victory of Ukrainian singer Jamala at the Eurovision Song Contest has chafed Russian-European relations. Her song "1944" deals with the fate of the Crimean Tatars expelled by Stalin. Russian politicians have criticised the performance as an attack on today's Russia. How much politics can the Song Contest handle?

The Nato-Russia Council has met for the first time in two years, but there was no sign of a rapprochement on key issues. Nato must finally put Moscow in its place, some commentators demand. For others the Alliance's Russia policy is too aggressive.

A 13-year-old Russian-German girl from Berlin has admitted that her claim that she was raped by "southern-looking men" was made up. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had accused the German authorities of trying to cover up the alleged incident. How long is the arm of Russian propaganda?