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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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  • 24 April 2014

    The second EUISS Task Force on the eastern neighbourhood, this meeting explored possible steps for how the EU could keep Moldova and Georgia on track to complete their EU association deals.

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    04 April 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.

  • 28 March 2014

    In light of the recent turbulence in the east and worsening of EU-Russia relations, the EUISS organised a Task Force meeting on the eastern neighbourhood on 28 March 2014 in Paris.

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    21 March 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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    14 March 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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    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?

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    05 September 2013

    With the G20 summit underway, this alert explores the reasons for continued Russian intransigence on Syria. If support of the Assad regime is not simply designed to irk the West, what other, deeper considerations are at play in this unlikely partnership?

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    30 August 2013

    Russia’s recent step to essentially block imports from its neighbour marked the opening salvo in a dispute that may still escalate into a full blown trade war. However, with the prospect of further Ukrainian economic integration with the EU in the form of an Association Agreement looming on the horizon, might Moscow’s actions prove, once again, self-defeating?

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    15 July 2013

    This alert examines the battle for supplying gas to Kiev, explaining how the once powerful monopolistic strategies of Gazprom - take-or-pay clauses, market partitioning and destination clauses - have either been neutralised or even turned against the company through the logic of the market and the regulatory power of the EU.

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    08 July 2013

    This brief offers an evaluation of the ongoing political transition in Georgia explaining that, although the risk of major social unrest remains low, and that there is no geopolitical drift away from the West, there are a number of issues of concern for the international community: the transparency of the judicial process, the lack of political vision currently demonstrated by the government, and the rising influence of traditionalist forces in Georgian society.

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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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