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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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  • 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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    19 September 2013

    As the EU negotiates the final phase of the Eastern Partnership process, this alert explores how the Union might consider launching an ‘EaP interim solidarity package’ to offset potential economic losses incurred by eastern-partner countries due to external pressures.

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    06 September 2013

    As the EU and most of its eastern partners enter the final phases of signing Association and Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area agreements, this alert highlights the pitfalls that can still derail the process, as Russia steps up economic pressure on countries like Armenia and Ukraine.

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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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    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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    06 December 2010

    A thaw in the frosty EU-Russia relationship has been occurring over the last year. But with Russia’s cheerier tone being buoyed by strategic gains in its neighbourhood, the EU should be under no illusion about Russia’s agenda.

  • 01 December 2010

    In this piece, the author ponders on how the high-speed Sapsan trains can be seens as a parable of the Russian leadership's superficial notion of modernisation.

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    22 October 2010

    In this quarter's issue of the newsletter, EUISS director Álvaro de Vasconcelos, explores the increasing inter-connection of actors beyond the big powers, F. Stephen Larrabee highlights the work yet to be done by the EU in the Balkans and the Eastern neighbourhood, and Luis Peral considers the EU's responsibility within the International Criminal Court.

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    12 April 2010

    In a historic ceremony on 7 April 2010, the Prime Ministers of Poland and Russia marked the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre during which Soviet secret police executed thousands of Polish prisoners of war and buried them in mass graves alongside victims of the Stalinist purges.  The belated gesture represented an unprecedented step towards a process of reconciliation between the two nations, one that would never have begun without an acknowledgement of Soviet responsibility for the atrocity.  Polish and Russian commentators were optimistic, and expectations abounded of a new era in Ru

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    09 April 2010

    The New START, a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty, aims to significantly reduce the weapons stockpiles of both the US and Russia. While it may be seen as a positive step towards disarmament and for US-Russia relations, getting it past the US Senate is Obama’s next big challenge, writes Jean Pascal Zanders.

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    07 April 2010

    Articles in this current issue: "After Lisbon: the States of the Union", "The EU and natural gas: the new security agenda", and "Obama's first year: a transformational presidency?"

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