EU Remains Key Russian Partner, Time Needed to Defuse Standoff – Envoy

MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union remains Russia’s key strategic and foreign policy partner, but time will be needed to resolve the crisis in relations between the two, Permanent Representative of Russia to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday.

“Anyway, the European Union, of course, remains our key trade and economic partner, as well as our important foreign policy partner,” the envoy said during a video conference organized by Rossiya Segodnya International News Agency.

Chizhov added that it would take time to overcome the crisis in relations between the two sides.

According to the diplomat, the cancellation of the EU-Russia summit scheduled for June and a number of other joint projects “did not help to promote” Moscow and Brussels’ strategic partnership.

“It was not only Russia that suffered a blow but our cooperation as well, including in the spheres where mutual interest is evident,” the Russian envoy to the EU added.

Nevertheless Chizhov stressed that relations between the two sides had already been stuck in low gear, for example negotiations for visa-free travel had “made no headway for quite a long time.”

“We are not to blame for this crisis – this is entirely the work of our noble partners,” the ambassador added.

Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, the EU has taken a series of measures which, as the 28-member block explained, were a response to Russia’s alleged involvement in escalating the tensions in strife-torn Ukraine.

The EU imposed sanctions on a number of high-ranking Russian officials, freezing their assets and banning them from travelling. The EU also cancelled the June Russia-EU summit in Sochi and froze talks on a visa-free regime. Russia was also repeatedly threatened with broader economic sanctions.

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