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International

Theresa May: Europe must be 'open-eyed' about 'hostile' Russia

14:35, Friday, 24 November, 2017
Theresa May: Europe must be 'open-eyed' about 'hostile' Russia

Theresa May has warned European leaders to remain "open-eyed" to the threat of "hostile" Russia as she accused Moscow of attempting to destabilise the continent.

Arriving in Brussels for an EU summit focused on the bloc's partnership with eastern European countries, the Prime Minister offered a stark assessment of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions.

Speaking ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit, Mrs May said: "The summit here today is all about taking stock and about looking ahead to see how we can tackle the shared challenges together, both in security and development.

"We must be open-eyed about the actions of hostile states like Russia who threaten the potential growth of the Eastern Neighbourhood and who try to tear our collective strength apart.

"I'm looking forward today to renewed commitments from European countries to working together to tackle these shared challenges in both security and development."She added: "I'm also here to say again that the UK is unconditionally committed to continuing to play our leading role in maintaining Europe's security.

"We may be leaving the EU, we're not leaving Europe."

The Prime Minister will use the EU summit, which will also be attended by the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, to reaffirm Britain's support to eastern Europe.

She will highlight the UK's £50m spend to support reform and security in the region via projects such as tax reform in Moldova and de-mining in Ukraine; as well as pointing to Britain's pledge of £100m over five years to counter disinformation in the EU's neighbouring countries.

It is Mrs May's second warning to Russia in the space of two weeks after the Prime Minister used a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet in London earlier this month to accuse Moscow of seeking to "weaponise information".

She highlighted Moscow's recent hacking activities and Kremlin-operated "fake news" initiatives as "an attempt to sow discord in the West".

After the summit, the Prime Minister will hold talks with European Council President Donald Tusk as she continues to try and persuade EU bosses to progress Brexit talks on to discussions about future trade.

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