Delegation of the European Union to Russia


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The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, visited Moscow from 4-6 February. During the visit, High Representative Borrell had a wide-ranging discussion on EU-Russia relations and the global geopolitical landscape with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In some parts of the world, girls under 18 are circumcised and assumed ready for marriage. Ester recalls that she was very excited and agreed to this “BUT when the day came and already cut, oh God I was like half dead,” she cried. Female genital mutilation is a crime and a violation of human rights. It cannot be justified as a cultural or traditional practice. The practice has been around for more than a thousand years, and continues to persist until this very day, further impacted by the shadow pandemic, disrupting efforts for its elimination. But change is possible, and it is happening.

During my meeting earlier today with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, I learned that three European diplomats are going to be expelled from Russia. I strongly condemned this decision and rejected the allegations that they conducted activities incompatible with their status as foreign diplomats. The decision should be reconsidered. I stressed the European Union’s unity and solidarity with the Member States concerned.


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Thank you Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergei] Lavrov for your invitation and for the opportunity to have a frank and open discussion. It has been an intense discussion and is still not finished. We will continue talking about other issues after this press conference.

The purpose of my visit today is to discuss the challenges we are facing, including issues where our views diverge and to listen to each other’s concerns.


No woman or girl should suffer from violence. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a severe violation of human rights and an act of violence against women and girls. It is estimated that more than 200 million women and girls worldwide have suffered from FGM. In Europe, at least 600,000 women and girls are living with the consequences of FGM, often severely affecting their health and well-being, even endangering their lives. COVID-19 has disrupted prevention programmes, seriously undermining progress towards reducing this heinous practice. Any backward step puts thousands of women and girls at risk.


The European Union (EU) and Russia remain closely interdependent despite strained relations since the
2014 illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by Russia and its destabilising actions in eastern
Ukraine. The EU has also imposed restrictive measures, including sectoral sanctions, as a result of Russia’s
actions in Ukraine, while formats such as regular high-level dialogues and cooperation remain suspended in
the absence of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia. A number of additional issues affect bilateral relations, including Russia’s actions in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, and repeated malign activities including disinformation campaigns. Nonetheless, Russia and the EU share longstanding historical, cultural and economic ties and the EU continues to engage Russia in selected areas of EU interest. The EU’s approach to Russia is guided by five principles agreed in 2016 and reaffirmed, most recently, by EU Foreign Ministers in October 2020.


The EU welcomes the agreement reached between the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the New START Treaty for an additional five years.

On 2 February, a Moscow court sentenced the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny to two years and eight months’ imprisonment. The Russian authorities have pursued his sentencing for the alleged violation of his probation while Mr. Navalny was recovering in Germany from an assassination attempt by poisoning suffered in the Russian Federation by a military chemical agent.

03/02/2021 – HR/VP blog – The Arctic is a fascinating region and Arctic affairs are becoming ever more geopolitically important. The impact of climate change, security issues and rivalries are growing, as is the need for cooperation and multilateral agreements.