European Officials Meet With Putin for ‘Frank’ Talk

Violence in Ukraine to take center stage

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Two of the European Union’s top officials are set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brussels on Tuesday, as relations between the two regions are at their lowest in a decade.

The EU ditched plans for a two-day summit, including dinner plans with Putin on Monday, in favor of three hours of face-to-face talks between Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

The situation in Ukraine will dominate the talks, Reuters reports, after Russia urged Ukraine government to turn its back on a trade deal with the EU last November, triggering protests that have swept the country. On Tuesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov offered to quit and parliament voted to annul controversial anti-protest legislation, less than two weeks after the measures were introduced.

“There is a need for a certain amount of straight talking, to clear the air perhaps, to clarify where we think this relationship is going,” one unnamed EU official told Reuters.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters in Moscow it was “high time for a frank and detailed conversation, including about our joint view of the prospects for Russia-EU relations.”