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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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    18October 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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    19September 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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    06September 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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    05September 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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    30August 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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    15July 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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    08July 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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    01July 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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    06May 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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    26March 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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  • 01December 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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    22October 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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    12April 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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    09April 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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    07April 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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    12November 2009

    The Russian-Georgian war of 2008 induced a thaw in relations between Brussels and Minsk, yet relations with Belarus continue to be a headache for the European Union. Chaillot Paper No.119 aims to provide in-depth empirical analysis on Belarus which, due to its long-standing isolation, remains a blank spot on the European map.

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    09November 2009

    On 30 October, three elderly statesmen met to congratulate each other on the role they played in Germany’s reunification: Helmut Kohl, Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush. They all all their own reasons for doing so. The Russian President had ruled out the use of violence to keep the Soviet empire intact. He just let go and, with the fall of the Wall, the most dramatic event which closed the twentieth century, the whole Soviet empire collapsed, and in a domino effect that spread with breathtaking speed the regimes of Eastern European bloc countries were toppled one after another.

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    04November 2009

    'The Obama Moment' provides an authoritative analysis of the most topical global questions of our time: multilateralism, the economy, disarmament and climate change. Will the election of Obama facilitate enhanced transatlantic co-operation in dealing with these and other challenges?

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    19October 2009

    This book breaks new ground by providing the first comprehensive review of every ESDP operation to date. It explains how the EU institutions responsible for international crisis management have developed and functioned, reviews the civil and military resources available to the ESDP, and analyses the key partnerships between the EU and other international organisations.

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    10September 2009

    It came as no surprise to hear Turkish and Armenian policymakers announce that they are launching final talks to establish diplomatic relations. This is the third move towards normalisation – after football diplomacy and the April 2009 road map – which has resulted from Swiss-mediated talks behind the scenes. The new framework proposes the signature of two protocols on the establishment of diplomatic ties and the development of bilateral relations.

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