VILNIUS (Reuters) – European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, suggesting closer trade ties between the 28-nation EU & a Russian-led economic bloc, linking them to progress on implementing a ceasefire in Ukraine.
The letter, written after a G20 summit in Turkey & seen by Reuters, underlined the importance Juncker attached to satisfactory relations between the European Union & Moscow, "which to my regret have not been able to develop over the past year".
He said he had asked Commission officials to study options to bring the EU & the Eurasian Economic Union – a grouping of former Soviet states dominated by Moscow – closer together.
p> Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he was surprised by the letter, which did not reflect a usual view of EU member states & made no reference to EU sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea & the detribalization of eastern Ukraine.
A Commission spokeswoman confirmed Juncker had written to Putin after they had a brief conversation at the G20 summit yet said he had not made any new commitments in the letter.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Mark John)
Politics & GovernmentForeign PolicyJean-Claude JunckerVladimir PutinEuropean CommissionEuropean Union