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Russia and eastern neighbours

Although the EU’s eastern neighbourhood is of strategic importance, the Union’s relations with the states of the region vary significantly.That said, there are high levels of interdependence between the EU and (virtually all of) its eastern neighbours in a number of different spheres - from trade and energy flows, to the joint management of security challenges and migration. The EU develops its policies in the region along two major strands - a strategic relationship with Russia, and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) Policy in its relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Russia is the EU’s biggest neighbour – and one of its most important, but also challenging partners. Over the past 15 years, the EU and Russia have developed a deep and complex network of political ties and diplomatic contacts. Yet, Moscow’s actions in Ukraine have greatly strained EU-Russia relations in recent years: tensions around Ukraine now dominate a relationship which once was mostly built on fostering trade and energy cooperation, a security dialogue, and a process that aims at liberalising visas.Elsewhere in the eastern neighbourhood, the cornerstones of the EU policy are the Association Agreements, which contain provisions on the establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas. Such Agreements have been signed and are implemented by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Relations with the other neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – are also advancing, but on a more modest scale than the frontrunners.

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  • Download Brief
    07July 2020
    This Brief analyses the current dynamics underpinning the Belarusian-Russian relationship and its possible future trajectory in the light of new factors which limit Belarus’s room for foreign policy manoeuvre. It highlights how, under increasing pressure from Russia and faced with domestic challenges, President Lukashenka may be hard-pressed to maintain the delicate balancing act that he has performed up to now to ensure his regime’s survival.
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    11June 2020
    The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak has had particularly disruptive consequences for conflict-affected countries around the world. Armed groups have capitalised on the crisis, while the global distraction caused by the pandemic has made it difficult to seize opportunities for peace. This Brief analyses key repercussions in conflict-affected countries in general, and in five countries in particular: Colombia, Libya, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen.
  • Photo of EUISS podcast recording studio
    09June 2020

    The EUISS ‘What if’ podcast is a foreign policy foresight conversation: it looks at fictional scenarios that could happen between now and the end of 2021.

  • Download Brief
    27May 2020
    In recent years Japan has sought to rekindle diplomatic, political and economic ties with Eastern Europe. This Brief examines how Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 may have motivated this charm offensive, prompted by Tokyo’s fears that such aggression could potentially be replicated in the Far East, as well as by concerns about transfers of military technology from Eastern Europe to China and the weakening of the global non-proliferation regime. It shows how Japan’s foreign policy goals in the eastern neighbourhood overlap with those of the EU, and highlights the potential for strengthening synergies between them.
  • Download Brief
    30April 2020
    In the three decades after the Cold War, the perception of ‘Arctic exceptionalism’, the sense that the Arctic region is immune from broader geopolitical tensions, prevailed. However, this notion is currently being challenged: climate change is accelerating the opening of new maritime trade routes and exploitation of natural resources in the region, while great power competition between the US, Russia and China in the Arctic is intensifying, changing regional power dynamics.
  • Download Brief
    31March 2020
    Russia is mounting a remarkable political comeback in sub-Saharan Africa through a ‘low costs, high returns and visibility’ approach. Can a coherent strategy be discerned behind this push? And how is sub-Saharan Africa reacting to Russia’s overtures and what does it mean for the EU?
  • Download Brief
    28February 2020
    This Brief analyses the peace efforts in Ukraine and argues that it would be in the country’s interest to continue decentralising and strengthening local governance structures, including in the east. But how does Moscow view this?
  • Participants of EUISS side event at MSC
    14February 2020

    The EUISS hosted a foresight side event at the global security forum.

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    24January 2020
    Edited by

    According to a famous science fiction film, the future is what you make of it. This Chaillot Paper takes this quote from Back to the Future to heart, proposing 14 different portraits of the future for the year 2024.

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    18July 2019

    The 2019 Yearbook of European Security provides an overview of events in 2018 that were significant for European security and charts major developments in the EU’s external action and security and defence policy.

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  • Photo of EUISS podcast recording studio
    09June 2020

    The EUISS ‘What if’ podcast is a foreign policy foresight conversation: it looks at fictional scenarios that could happen between now and the end of 2021.

  • Participants of EUISS side event at MSC
    14February 2020

    The EUISS hosted a foresight side event at the global security forum.

  • Florence Gaub, Gustav Lindstrom, Stanislav Secrieru, Daniel Fiott
    03June 2019

    From 3-4 June 2019, the EUISS supported the (ESDC, the National University of Public Service of Hungary and CEPOL with the 14th CSDP high-level course 2018-2019.

  • 19September 2018

    On 19 September 2018, the EUISS in collaboration with the George C. Marshall Center’s European Center for Security Studies organised a workshop on transatlantic security.

  • 26January 2018

    On 26 January 2018, the EUISS organised a public conference to present a report on Chinese and Russian defence industries and to discuss the issue of European arms exports to Asia.

  • 02October 2017

    On 2 October 2017, the EUISS and the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU organised a high-level conference on hybrid threats. During three panels focusing on the current state of play, cyber resilience and strategic communications, the conference encouraged debate about the efforts made by the EU to counter hybrid threats.

  • 03May 2017

    The roundtable discussion looked into the concept of a newly emerging partnership between Russia and China. Speakers identified certain areas of rapprochement between the two countries, but overall concluded that the differences outweigh them, and that there is no new actual new Eastern Partnership formed yet.

  • 03May 2017

    In 2017, for the third year running, the EU-Russia Forum was co-hosted by the EUISS and supported by the EEAS. The forum convened senior officials and experts from across Europe, Russia, and the United States to evaluate the current state of EU-Russia relations and propose ways forward.

  • 08March 2017

    On 8 March, the EUISS and DG NEAR jointly organised a Seminar on building resilience in the EU’s surrounding regions. The Seminar brought together experts from Europe’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods, as well as European institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities in building resilience in the EU’s surrounding regions.

  • 25November 2016

    On 25 October, the EUISS, in collaboration with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the EU External Action Service (EEAS), gathered analysts and experts in a workshop to discuss the challenges and dilemmas of Russia’s political agenda.

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