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‘Hope Russia will be EU’s strategic partner’

Russia is now a “strategic problem” for the European Union amid the crisis in Ukraine but Brussels will work to make Moscow a partner again, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.

Juncker also insisted that the huge South Stream gas pipeline to Europe could still be built, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly pulling the plug on the multi-billion-dollar project.

“Yes, Russia is a strategic problem for the time being and I hope that on Friday Russia will be a strategic partner,” Juncker said after talks with Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country stands to be one of those worst affected by the pipeline cancellation. “Everything the Commission can do in that respect will be done,” he told reporters.

Juncker was asked about comments by Donald Tusk, the former Polish premier who took over as head of the European Council of EU leaders on Monday, who was quoted by the Financial Times as saying Russia had become a strategic problem.
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