Juncker to meet Putin: “Talks with Russia are vital” (Reuters)

European Commission President Juncker defends attendance at Russia forum, says talks vital as reported by Reuters.

Juncker said he was aware that some people might not approve of his visiting Russia for talks at a time when EU sanctions on Moscow remained in place, but that he thought it was the right thing to do.

Russian media are celebrating what is expected to be the biggest ever forum, with, according to a Russian official, 10,000 guests. “These figures confirm that it is impossible to conduct a policy of isolation against Russia,” trumpeted Izvestia, a daily newspaper. Moskovsky Komsomolets, a mass-market daily, wrote: “At the St Petersburg economic forum, the reputation blockade will be lifted.” (Financial Times)

EU diplomats have said the 28-nation bloc is certain to extend its sanctions against Russia when they come up for renewal next week (31 June). (Daily Mail)

But despite what said by EU diplomats, politicians all over Europe are facing growing pressure to lift sanctions agains Russia. Italy’s Renzi (socialist), German Foreign Minister Steinmaier (socialist) and France’s Sarkozy (EPP) argued publicly for an easing in sanctions policy.