Juncker is set to make his first visit to Russia since the Ukraine crisis, and the imposition of sanctions by the EU against Russia, next week to attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia’s equivalent to the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos meeting.
Today his office confirmed that Juncker will have a bilateral meeting with the Russian President in their first face-to-face conversation since November 2014 ahead of the G20 summit.
A spokesperson for Juncker said: “As regards the meeting next week … they will discuss relations between the EU and Russia.
“I can assure you there will not be a softening of European positions in St. Petersburg.”
Despite the comments, speculation will be rife that Putin will use the meeting to pressure Juncker to drop - or ease - the sanctions regime imposed against Russia, which puts a partial block on economic activity between the EU and Russia. A number of Putin’s allies have also had their assets frozen.