Lithuania warns against holding EU summit with Russia' Putin

NATO summit in Brussels
Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda arrives for the NATO summit at the Alliance's headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS, June 24 (Reuters) - Lithuania warned the European Union on Thursday against engaging in direct dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin for as long as Moscow does not change its behaviour.

Gitanas Nauseda, arriving to a summit of the bloc's 27 national leaders, voiced scepticism about a proposal by Paris and Berlin to consider holding an EU summit with Putin after the new U.S. President Joe Biden held his own bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart.

Nauseda said the idea was like "trying to engage the bear to keep a pot of honey safe."

"We should be extremely cautious, this is not like the relationship of Russia with the United States."

"We have to deal with Russia but being very cautious about real intentions of the Putin regime," Nauseda told reporters. "So far, we don't see any real change in the pattern of behaviour of Russia."

"Without any positive changes in Russia's behaviour, if we start to engage, it'll send a very bad signal to our partners," he said in referring to countries like Ukraine and Georgia, former Soviet republics with extremely fraught ties with Moscow.

Reporting by Marine Strauss, Gabriela Baczynska

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