Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting European Union chiefs for his first summit of his new presidency to discuss, among other matters, Russia's policy towards Syria.
Mr. Putin hosted a dinner Sunday in St. Petersburg for EU heads Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso and foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The talks formally kick-off Monday.
The European Union, along with the United States, is looking to Russia to become more forceful in condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
One EU official has said Russia has not been very helpful in finding a political solution to the violence.
The Kremlin says the only way out for Syria is for all sides to heed envoy Kofi Annan's plan for an immediate halt to the violence followed by peace talks.
But Russia and China have blocked stronger action in the United Nations Security Council. Russia has said Western demands that President Assad give up power is unacceptable.