The bloc’s Franco-German engine was shut down, with multiple leaders ridiculing a proposal for a leadership showdown with Kremlin bullyboy Vladimir Putin. In the early hours of this morning, European leaders adopted a hardline stance against Moscow after a diplomatic war of words at an EU Council meeting in Brussels. The EU’s prime ministers and presidents rejected Berlin and Paris’ proposed plan of ”meetings at leaders level” with Mr Putin.
In a highly humiliating blow for German leader Angela Merkel and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, their effort to woo Moscow was blown out of the water in favour of a threat of economic sanction if Russia continues in “malign and disruptive activity”.
Ahead of travelling to Brussels yesterday, Mrs Merkel said: “In my opinion, we as the European Union must also seek direct contact with Russia and the Russian president.
“It is not enough for US President Joe Biden to talk to the Russian president – I very much welcome that – but the European Union must also create formats for talks here.”
But early this morning, she conceded defeat for her plan – which was endorsed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte had already told reporters he would not attend talks with the Russian president.
And eastern member states spoke out about the dangers of ignoring Mr Putin’s hostility towards the EU.
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