European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has said EU-Russia relations can only improve if Ukraine is allowed to decide its own future, adding that the EU is 'not in danger of death' if the UK leaves.
He said the EU is 'united' on maintaining economic sanctions on Russia until it complies with the Minsk peace deal on Ukraine, which says 'foreign', meaning Russian, troops must leave Ukraine and that Russia must hand back control of Ukraine’s border.
'If our relationship today is troubled and marked by mistrust, it is not broken beyond repair. We need to mend it and I believe we can, but our path must begin with Ukraine,' he said.
Mission of Ukraine to the EU shared on Facebook:
'The next step is clear: full implementation of the Minsk agreements. No more, no less. This is the only way to begin our conversation, and the only way to lift the economic sanctions that have been imposed.' Jean-Claude Juncker said.
He said Russia's actions had 'shaken the very principles of the European security order'.
'Each sovereign nation must be free to choose its relations with its neighbours,' he said.
'Such a choice can never be seen as an act of aggression or division,' he added, referring to Ukraine’s decision to sign an EU free trade pact instead of joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.'
He declined to discuss sanctions in more detail, saying he would do this later in the day with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.