EU leaders are wrapping up a two-day summit meeting in Brussels with discussions focusing on the planned new Russian natural-gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to Germany.
The planned new pipeline is supported by Germany because it would double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which brings natural gas to Germany and on to other EU states.
But the project is strongly opposed by several Central European EU members as well as the United States, which see it as a Russian strategy to bypass Ukraine. The additional volume Nord Stream 2 could carry would be roughly equivalent to what Russia currently delivers to the EU through Ukraine, providing Kyiv an important source of transit revenues.
Amos Hochstein, the U.S. special envoy for international energy affairs, told media on December 16 that Washington views the pipeline as part of Russia's "overarching political agenda to get rid of Ukraine as a transit country." He called that an attempt to "undermine the economic stability of the county by non-military means."
The summit in Brussels, which began December 17, has also focused on EU migration policy.
European Union leaders meeting overnight pledged the speedy establishment of an EU border and coastguard force.
The leaders decided that they would agree upon details of the new border force by the middle of next year.
The decision came as they again urged each other to implement measures agreed this year to curb migration across the Mediterranean.
Some leaders, including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, signaled they wanted to remove a controversial element of the proposal which would give Brussels power to send in EU border guards without a country's consent.
Greece and Italy are under pressure to do more to manage and identify arriving migrants while governments in general have yet to make good on promises to help take in asylum seekers and deport unwanted economic migrants.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL and Reuters