EU FMs set to discuss Syria, tensions with Russia
Foreign Ministers from the European Union (EU) are set to review the bloc’s foreign policy on issues of common concern, including the Syria crisis, and possibly take a united stand against Russia amid diplomatic tensions between the two sides.
The foreign minister from the 28 EU member states gathered on Monday in Luxembourg to discuss the developments in Syria, days after the US, Britain and France launched a barrage of coordinated missile attacks against the Arab state under the pretext of punishing Damascus for an alleged chemical attack earlier this month.
Syria has rejected any role in the alleged chemical attack, which took place near Damascus last Saturday.
The EU foreign ministers are said to be divided in their views about the legality of the missile strikes on Syria, and reaching a unified policy in regard to the incident could be a tough challenge.
France and Britain have defended the attack on Syria, some were neutral, and those at the other end of the scale were opposed to the strikes, possibly due to worries regarding Russia’s reaction.
Moscow, which has close proximity to Europe and supplies gas to the continent, has warned European leaders against unknown consequences of taking anti-Damascus measures.
Russia has been helping the Syrian government in its anti-terrorism battle. Moscow has sternly warned the US and its allies against the consequences of any illegal intervention in the Arab country.
At the Monday meeting, EU foreign ministers will discuss how to put pressure on Moscow to try to find a political solution to the Syria crisis.
Russia, together with Iran and Turkey, is already mediating a diplomatic process between Syria's conflicting sides. Moscow has slammed the tripartite missile strikes against Syria as an attack on the Arab country's chance for a peaceful future.
Another issue on the agenda of the EU summit was the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK last month.
The UK accuses Russia of being behind the incident and says the Novichok nerve agent had been used to poison the Skripals.
Russia has strongly rejected the claims and, in turn, blamed Britain and the countries studying the nerve agent for the attack.
The case has triggered a severe diplomatic standoff between Russia, on the one side, and the UK and its European allies, on the other.