Latvia, the holder of the EU presidency, says it sees an opportunity for Russia to agree to a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said January 7 that Russia's economy is hurting due to Western trade sanctions and falling oil prices.
Rinkevics, who will travel to Kyiv and Moscow for meetings this week, said he sees "signals" from the Kremlin indicating "a willingness" for cooperation with the EU.
Rinkevics said an improvement in the situation in eastern Ukraine, where Russia holds influence over pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces, could result in a softening of sanctions.
Rinkevics said the EU wants Moscow to prevent fighters and weapons from crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande for talks in Kazakhstan on January 15.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP