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Putin Sees 'Serious Tests' For Russia's Relations With EU

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the next president of the European Commission that Russia's ties with the European Union are undergiong "serious tests" but can be improved.

The Kremlin said Putin had congratulated former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker (say 'Yoon-kher') after he was approved in his new role by the European Parliament on July 15.

The Kremlin said that in his message, Putin expressed hope that strained relations will now "develop actively in the spirit of a strategic partnership."

Ties between Russia and the EU have been strained over the crisis in Ukraine, during which the EU has imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax