The Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU, Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov, said that the real causes of the difficulties in relations between Russia and the EU lie in geopolitics.
According to Chizov, formal relations with the European Union have been continuing for 26 years, but this year was "perhaps the most difficult." In his opinion, the relations of the countries "have become hostages of the West's interests.” Formally, the ongoing difficulties are part of the "Ukrainian crisis" but the diplomat said they were in fact "for reasons of geopolitical nature."
Chizhov also noted that difficulties have manifested in the stalling of cooperation, in extended sanctions "in spite of the objective situation" and "in attempts to confront the mythical Russian propaganda."
On December 22th the European Union introduced anti-Russian sanctions which the EU Council eventually extended for another six months. Sanctions against the Russian Federation were first introduced in the spring of 2014 after the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of hostilities in the Donbas region. They were then amplified in several stages. In addition, Russia has been excluded from the G8.
The European Parliament in June announced the suspension of cooperation with Russia, and that Russia would no longer be a strategic partner of the EU.