ANGELA Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were left humiliated last night after their EU colleagues tore to shreds plans to hold a formal summit with Russia.
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.
Lithuanian president Gitandas Nauseda warned that the EU should not engage with Mr Putin without setting out preconditions for improved behaviour for Moscow.
Ahead of the meeting, Latvian prime minister Krisjanis Karins suggested given the current state of EU-Russia relations, a summit could be a sign of weakness from the bloc.
Sources said a majority of EU leaders backed the calls by Mr Rutte, who previously said he would not attend any summit with Mr Putin.
Arriving at the summit yesterday, the Dutch PM said: “I don’t mind a meeting with Vladimir Putin by the two presidents.
“I won’t participate in a meeting with Vladimir Putin, myself, as European Council.”