Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said earlier that the consultations would be held on March 12-13. The Russian delegation will be led by Maxim Medvedkov, head of the Department of Trade Negotiations in the Ministry of Economic Development. The EC delegation will be headed by Peter Balas, Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for Trade.

The decision to hold the consultations was made at the Russia-EU summit in Brussels in January of this year. Their purpose is to promote better understanding by the parties of the Eastern Partnership goals, specifically its trade aspects, and understand whether they run counter to Russian interests or not.

Most observers in Brussels believe that this decision is at least five years late because Eastern Partnership initiators Poland, Sweden and Baltic states Рpositioned the programme since its launch in Prague on May 7, 2009 as a means of countering Russia’s growing influence in post-Soviet countries.