Russia Fails to Assure EU on Energy

Russia Fails to Assure EU on Energy

European leaders asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to give the European Union a long-term assurance that its contracts could be trusted.

Putin, however, said Russia was not ready to sign international energy agreements despite pressure from the European Union.

The leaders of the 25 EU member countries invited Putin to attend a dinner at the EU summit held in the Finnish town of Lahti.

The discussion centered on enhancing strategic cooperation, primarily in the energy market, between Moscow and the European Union, which gets a quarter of its natural gas supply from Russia.

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the European Union expected Moscow to guarantee it would abide by international agreements on regulating the energy market.

Vanhanen indicated the European Union wanted to establish long-term, balanced, legally binding and closer cooperation with Russia.

Putin, however, noted Russia was not against the charter the European Union insisted on, but certain provisions of the deal needed to be better defined.

Russian president said Russia shared similar ideas with the European Union that energy cooperation should be established on the principle of reciprocity.

Energy became a problem between Russia and the European Union when Russia cut off natural gas to Ukraine last year.

European leaders also discussed pressure on press and human rights violations in Russia and conveyed to Putin their concerns.

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