This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The United States and European Union have announced an agreement to “establish an EU-U.S. high-level dialogue on Russia” to better coordinate policies and actions.
The pledge came after a summit between President Joe Biden and the heads of two major EU institutions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council chief Charles Michel.
“We stand united in our principled approach towards Russia and we are ready to respond decisively to its repeating pattern of negative behavior and harmful activities, which Russia must address to prevent the further deterioration of relations including on the list of so-called unfriendly states,” the declaration said.
Russia’s government last month approved a list of “unfriendly countries” that included two states: the United States and the Czech Republic, the latter of which recently traded diplomatic expulsions with Moscow over evidence that Russian agents were behind a deadly explosion at an ammunition depot in 2014.
At a trio of international summits over the past five days — with the Group of Seven (G7), NATO allies in Brussels, and senior EU officials — Biden has sought to gather widespread European support for his efforts to counter Russia ahead of a key summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.
Biden has pledged to more directly challenge Putin on Russian actions like cyberattacks emanating from Russia, security issues like Ukraine and other European hot spots, and election meddling, while leaving a door open to cooperation in areas like climate change, arms control, and strategic security.
The European Union has shown divisions in its approach to Moscow, which is the bloc’s biggest natural-gas supplier and a key player in international issues such as the Iran nuclear deal and conflicts in Syria and Libya.
The joint U.S.-EU statement includes a long list of warnings on topics like “continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s and Georgia’s sovereignty,” where Russia has aided armed separatists or has troops.
They offered support for the “sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity” of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, which also has a contingent of Russian troops in its breakaway region of Transdniester.
The message also urged Russia’s cooperation to ensure diplomatic protections, and demanded that Russia “stop its continuous crackdown on civil society, the opposition and independent media and release all political prisoners.”
Moscow and the West have locked horns over the fate of jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny since his near-fatal poisoning last summer with a Soviet-era nerve agent, after which he was medically evacuated to Germany.
“At the same time,” the statement said, “we keep channels of communication open and possibilities for selective cooperation in areas of common interest.”