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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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    07 March 2014

    Following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, this Alert offers three possible scenarios on how developments in Crimea will play out. Are we witnessing a ‘Transnistrisation’ of Crimea? And what is at stake for both Putin and the West?

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    07 February 2014

    The third in a series of EUISS Alerts focusing on the prospects for Afghanistan in 2014, this Alert evaluates Russia’s current policy towards Afghanistan and how it may evolve in the future. In particular, it shows that Russia’s overall approach is still mainly determined by issues relating to America’s military presence there rather than by its bilateral relations with Kabul.

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    07 February 2014

    As the 2014 Winter Olympics get underway, this brief looks at what Moscow hopes to gain from its $51 billion Olympic investment. The 2008 Beijing Olympics are seen as a model for hosting successful games that showcase national development. But with global headlines dominated by stories of corruption, human rights abuses, anti-gay laws and the very real threat of terrorist attacks, one might be forgiven for wondering whether the Russian government regrets its decision to bid for the games.

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    30 January 2014

    What does 2014 have in store for the EU’s eastern neighbourhood? This alert provides a succinct overview of the major political events and developments likely to shape the agenda this year.

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    17 January 2014

    With the next EU-Russia Summit fast approaching, this brief assesses the cooperative, yet competitive, nature of the relationship between Brussels and Moscow. With the ongoing spats over the countries in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood – and the absence of grands projets – how is it possible to deepen relations further?

  • 11 December 2013

    This off-the-record brainstorming session brought together representatives from the EEAS, European Commission, Council of the EU, Permanent Representations of the EU member states and a few selected experts to discuss the future of the Eastern Partnership.

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    06 December 2013

    This alert assesses the state of play of politics in the Union’s eastern neighbourhood in the aftermath of the Vilnius Summit. How should the EU proceed with Ukraine following its dramatic refusal to initial an Association Agreement? And how can it ensure the other Eastern Partnership countries stay on track in the face of both domestic and foreign pressure?

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    29 November 2013

    This brief analyses what impact the five BRICS countries are likely to have in global politics in the years to come, and what future trajectory the grouping might take. The BRICS ‘club’ may or may not last – in its present or another formation – but its rise is a wake-up call for the EU to deepen its bilateral relations with individual BRICS and possibly reconsider its own position in the emerging system of global governance.

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    22 November 2013

    With an increase in the number and scale of acts of vigilantism by semi-organised nationalist groups, the Russian authorities now find themselves –and their political system – under serious pressure. But in addition to a significant mutation in Russian nationalism, what wider trends are at play? And what effect will this rising xenophobia have on Russia’s foreign policy goals?

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    18 October 2013

    This alert explores the reasons behind Armenia’s shock decision to give up on its association and free trade deal with the EU and highlights the possibilities for the Union to enhance its relations with states in the eastern neighbourhood. Are we now witnessing the formation of a ‘two-tier’ Eastern Partnership?

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    01 July 2013

    Following negotiations that lasted over a decade, on Friday 28 June, the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) was chosen over Nabucco West to transport Azeri gas to the European markets. In light of the on-going debate on energy security, this alert explores the motivations behind the decision and its implications for the EU.

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    06 May 2013

    On 30 April 2013, the ECHR ruled that Yulia Tymoshenko had been subjected to arbitrary and unlawful detention before her trial in 2011. Yet, even if Tymoshenko’s case epitomises much of what is currently wrong with Ukraine’s politics, the problems facing the country are complex and cannot be reduced to the (mis)treatment of one politician.

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    26 March 2013

    After a period of relative stability and significant progress in its reform efforts, Moldovan politics has (re)entered a phase of instability, creating uncertainty about its future direction and its relationship with the EU. This notwithstanding, Moldova potentially remains the best example of a successful transformation under the Union’s Eastern Partnership.

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    04 March 2013

    Sanctions seem to have become one of the EU’s weapons of choice to effect change beyond its borders and the case of Belarus testifies in particular to the Union’s ambition to conduct coercive diplomacy. Yet, despite the various steps taken by the EU over the past years, little lasting success has been achieved so far in enforcing meaningful change in Europe’s ‘last dictatorship’.

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    25 July 2012

    Europe's financial crisis has allowed Russia to expand its already substantial influence in the Mediterranean. Russian involvement in regional bailouts, energy deals and shifting alliances means that EU now faces a difficult balancing act in an area of strategic importance.

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    12 July 2012

    As many European governments introduce their biggest defence budget cuts in years, the impact on their collective military capabilities may be lessened by exploiting two directives designed to integrate the EU defence market.

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    02 March 2012

    Coinciding with the Russian presidential elections, the EUISS has published a report in which a group of Russian authors explore the challenge faced by Russia’s political elite from a rapidly evolving society. The report examines the recent protests and the need for political reform and assesses how the gap between state and society has undermined the legitimacy of the ruling class.

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    26 May 2011

    What scenarios lie ahead for Russia after the March 2012 presidential elections? The authors of this paper define potential ‘game changers’ and provide conclusions as to which post-election scenarios might be more favourable to Russia, and to the European Union.

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    11 May 2011

    While the current focus of EU foreign policy is firmly trained on its southern neighbourhood, this paper explains why the EU should not forget about the long-simmering disputes in its Eastern neighbourhood – disputes which might once again require EU responses in the future.

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    18 January 2011

    In this quarter's issue, The Economist's Anton La Guardia proposes a unique role for the EU in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Nicola Casarini says the EU should get more involved in East Asia, and Álvaro de Vasconcelos forwards the case for better preventing conflict.

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