Merkel herself said after the first day of the summit with her EU colleagues in Brussels that the discussion on relations with Russia had been “very thorough” but that she had hoped for a “more courageous step”. “We couldn’t agree on a meeting at the leadership level, but it’s important to me that there is a dialogue and that we work on it.”
Conflicts with Russia are best resolved by talking to each other, says Merkel, supported by French, Italian and Austrian leaders. She refers to the summit between Putin and US President Joe Biden in Geneva last week. Rutte says he understands the gist of their argument. “You can’t leave Biden. That if he is in Europe and talks to Putin: maybe you can bring this and that for us too. But he personally suits a summit with Putin.
Brussels will now look at possibilities for further collaboration with Russia in areas such as climate and public health. But at the same time, EU leaders are asking the EU foreign chief to explore any economic sanctions they could impose on Russia.