During his January visit to Brussels, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to put in their place not only European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, but also the entire Western world.Russia's leader used a whole range of time-honored phrases to make the point that one should not interfere with the internal affairs of a sovereign state.Europeans had long anticipated that discussions with Putin would be complex.
Recent developments in Ukraine will once again test the EU-Russia relationship, which has been going through a rough patch.
The cooling of relations was noticeable at the last Russia-EU summit in Brussels, as well as at the winter meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.
The situation threatens to turn into a silent standoff.
Paris-based author and analyst Elena Servettaz details the latest twists and turns of the bilateral relationship.
In a telephone conversation with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed the Kremlin’s discontent that the EU is "pressuring" Ukraine and "reacting inappropriately." Lavrov was not involved in the closed-door meeting in Brussels; Barroso and Van Rompuy talked to Putin privately.
But even before this summit, European diplomats were saying that no "miracles are to be expected from this meeting." And no miracles happened.
Initially, Putin declared during a press conference in Brussels that Russia would keep its promise to allocate billion in aid "to the Ukrainian people" regardless of who composed the government.
It was hard to imagine that after tensions about Ukraine, Putin, Van Rompuy, and Barroso could enjoy together .
Although not on the level of the Cold War, the air was still cool.