LUXEMBOURG, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Members of the European Parliament said they were concerned by Russian pressure exerted on former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe.
European leaders review the integration efforts of Ukraine, Georgia and other Eastern European countries during a conference next month in Lithuania. Members of the European Parliament said during a plenary session in Luxembourg they were concerned by the "blackmail" exerted by the Kremlin on its former Soviet republics.
Georgians reacted angrily when Russian officials visited the region this summer to mark the anniversary of a 2008 conflict over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said from the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation last week the Ukrainian government should be mindful of "the cost of such a journey [toward the EU]."
Members of Parliament said Russia could use integration as a benefit for trade with an expanded European economy. While the upcoming meeting in Lithuania would be "historic" for the EU, legislators said Monday they were concerned what would happen if Russia "slams the door" on former Soviet republics.