During visit, EU official says bloc needs to engage Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — A top European Union official has said on a rare visit to Russia that the EU needs to engage Russia despite the annexation of Crimea and economic sanctions against Moscow.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is the highest ranking EU official to visit Russia after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which trigged U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia.

Speaking to a top economic conference in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Juncker criticized the European politicians who said he was sending a wrong signal by going to Russia.

Juncker said the EU must talk with Russia but that doesn’t mean that the EU’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity is wavering. He said that the full implementation of the Ukraine peace deal “no more, no less, is the only way to lift the economic sanctions.”