On Tuesday, the European Union pulled a "you can't sit with us" on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in Brussels for an EU-Russia summit. Tensions were clearly high throughout the summit — partially due to the crisis in Ukraine — which lasted three hours instead of the usual two days, and came to a boil when Putin wasn't offered dinner, a basic ritual of diplomacy, during his visit.
This snub is evidence of chilled relations between Russia and the EU's recent bickering over Ukraine. The EU has accused Russia of using threats to win over Ukraine in December, when President Viktor Yanukovych agreed to a $15 billion bailout deal with Russia, setting off widespread and sometimes violent protests in Ukraine.
Russia's loan and discounted gas prices are enticing to the economically unstable Ukraine, but those protesting the deal prefer an agreement with the EU, hoping to cement Ukraine's status as part of modern Europe with all that entails. Europe has ramped up efforts to sway the former Soviet Republic, sending a procession of senior officials, including EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, to Kiev this week to meet government and opposition leaders. Putin criticized the EU officials' visit to Ukraine saying, "The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are."
Since he's not all that welcome in Europe, perhaps Putin should make alternative dinner plans with China.