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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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    18September 2015

    The recent appointment of Mikheil Saakashvili – a restless yet error-prone reformer – as governor of Odessa is a gamble for Ukraine. Will he be able to introduce or force through the reforms the country so desperately needs? Or does he have his sights set on an even bigger prize?

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    18September 2015

    Ukraine is fighting two wars simultaneously: a hybrid conflict in the east and a war against itself – a struggle against its own dysfunctionality and endemic levels of corruption. What progress has been made? And are the country’s political elite likely to scupper or support further reform efforts?

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    03July 2015

    Moldova is in the middle of a debate over whether it is the falling star of the Eastern Partnership or if it can still regain some of its shine. Its politics is messy and corruption is high. Yet, its progress over the last few years has been rather impressive. Now the task is to consolidate achievements, while dealing with its failures.

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    17June 2015

    The Arctic region is currently undergoing major and rapid transformation, both environmentally and economically. This report, the outcome of a EUISS Task Force, examines how these changes carry significant political implications, and highlights the new security challenges that are emerging in the region.

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    12June 2015

    This Chaillot Paper looks at CSDP operations and missions, and explores how they fit into the broader crisis management environment and multilateral efforts towards international peace. It highlights the inherent constraints facing CSDP and how these inevitably limit its overall impact or degree of success. The paper also examines the EU’s added value and the extent to which CSDP is moving forward at various levels.

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    10June 2015

    Although President Putin enjoys a remarkably free hand abroad, he still operates within constraints. Over the last nine months, Russians have become increasingly hostile to ‘foreign adventures’ as economic problems have mounted. What effect, if any, will this have on Russian foreign policy?

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    05June 2015

    With the five BRICS countries continuing to expand and institutionalise their cooperation on key international issues in an attempt to further increase their global clout, this Brief takes a look at the EU’s response to their rise. Should the BRICS be treated individually or as a group by the Union?

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    13May 2015

    Putin’s inner circle have tried to evade the US and EU sanctions imposed on them and have been amply compensated for their losses by the state. But with intra-elite tensions on the rise and sanctions depressing Western lending across the board, their effect on Russia’s strategic calculations should not be underestimated.

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    24April 2015

    This Brief seeks to draw out the lessons learnt from the sanctions imposed on the Soviet Union during the Cold War. What parallels are there with Putin’s Russia? Are they effective foreign policy tools or simply blunt instruments which harm the West as much as the Kremlin?

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    10April 2015

    Russia’s information war in Ukraine is rooted in military theory. Drawing on a Hobbesian vision of the world as an arena of incessant inter-state conflict, this theory sets out techniques that aggressors can use to subvert the information space of its adversaries. In Ukraine, Russia turned theory into practice.

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    07November 2014

    This Brief takes a closer look at Russia’s claims that it stands to lose so much as a result of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. What are the economic realities? And why is greater attention not being paid to the impacts of the Moscow-backed Eurasian Economic Union?

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    10October 2014

    This Alert outlines some initial lessons which can already be drawn from the crisis in Ukraine. Dispelling certain commonly held assumptions about the origins of the current conflict, it also outlines how the EU could move forward with crafting policies towards its eastern neighbours.

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    19September 2014

    This Alert examines the outcome of the BRICS summit that took place in July, as well as the reluctance of individual BRICS to criticise Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. Does the establishment of the New Development Bank herald an age of opposition to Western-dominated institutions and policies?

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    09September 2014

    This Chaillot Paper examines Russia’s Eurasian project. Is this a new twenty-first century version of the Soviet Union? Does the project make economic sense, or is it simply a ploy by Putin to restore Russia’s great power status? It also looks at how the crisis in Ukraine will affect Moscow’s plans, as well as how the EU could interact with this potential rival.

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    04July 2014

    Although Moscow appears to have achieved its short-term goals in Ukraine, what about its long-term objectives? This Alert demonstrates how, despite the domestic boost for Russia’s president, the destabilising of country on its doorstep hardly counts as a Russian victory.

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    28May 2014

    This Brief assesses the array of challenges facing Ukraine as it attempts to maintain territorial unity and reform its oligarchic economy. Despite the turmoil that has plagued the country in recent months, can its new president, Petro Poroshenko, now embark on a mission to save the state?

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    04April 2014

    This Alert weighs up the costs and benefits of Putin’s recent military venture in Crimea, and demonstrates why, in the context of the foreign policy race between the Russia and the West, the latter may have to up its step.

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    21March 2014

    This Brief examines the attempts by the Kremlin to establish a rival to the European Union in the post-Soviet sphere. But given Russia’s overwhelming dominance, do other post-Soviet states wholeheartedly share Moscow’s vision? And what can the EU do to ensure that the country adheres to the rules of the WTO and respects its neighbours’ political sovereignty?

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    14March 2014

    This Alert explores the international crisis in Crimea from China’s perspective. While it is clear that China disapproves of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine at several levels, Chinese interests in eastern Europe remain too small for Beijing to take an open and vocal stance – at least for now.

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    07March 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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