France's Jean-Yves Le Drian piqued as Russia "bypasses" EU in crucial Geneva talks with U.S.

Talks between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the No. 2 official at the U.S. State Department, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are set to begin in Geneva on Monday as Russian forces languish on the country's borders with Ukraine, and with each side hoping to avert a crisis.

The U.S. approach would be “pragmatic, results-oriented,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “We’re not responding to them point by point."

Russia, meanwhile, appears to be shutting out the EU. "Vladimir Putin wants to bypass the European Union... he wants to put dents in the EU cohesion, which is solidifying", French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (pictured) told BFM TV and RMC Radio.

The stage-managed humiliation of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell at the hands of Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in February 2021 possibly set the scene for the EU's sidelining in the current crisis.

“We are getting used to the fact that the European Union are trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions and we proceed from the assumption at this stage that the European Union is an unreliable partner," Lavrov said.

Lavrov deftly tricked a wrong-footed Borrell into condemning U.S. sanctions against Cuba: “You know that the European Union rejects the U.S. embargo to Cuba and we continue to express this also vis-à-vis the new U.S. administration. We expect the U.S. administration to review its position with respect to Cuba,” Borrell said, handing the Kremlin a PR coup and prompting Sandra Kalniete MEP, EPP Group Vice president in charge of Foreign Affairs, to comment: "We expected the EU High Representative to defend the European values and not to become a tool of Kremlin propaganda."

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

He is a of member the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK, and the oldest in the world having been founded in October 1884

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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