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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin More Open in Sochi, Source Says

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- President Vladimir Putin has showed some openness to European Union demands that Moscow ratify the International Energy Charter, an EU source said, moving the sides closer before a G8 summit in July.

EU leaders met Putin in Sochi on Wednesday and Thursday after months of choppy relations resulting from public bickering over access to gas pipelines and energy infrastructure.

The meeting showed big differences remained, but an EU source familiar with the talks said he detected a more open approach from the Russian side to EU demands and saw the potential for progress ahead of the G8 meeting.

"Every time we talk, I think we move forward in our mutual understanding," the source said. "Even on the Energy Charter, Putin was slightly more open."

The EU wants Russia to ratify the charter, which would require it to open up its gas pipelines to competition.

At a news conference on Thursday, Putin responded bluntly to those demands: "What do we get in return? What sort of access to what infrastructure, production and transport?"

The EU source said Europe had technology and investment to offer.

He said Russian concerns that Gazprom would be shut out of the 25-nation bloc's downstream distribution market were based on a misconception of how the EU's liberalized markets worked. "They may perceive that there are areas where they are not allowed," he said. "We don't even have instruments that would prevent that."