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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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    15March 2017

    Much of the current analysis of future US-Russia relations is focused on Trump’s presumed instincts and intentions towards Moscow. This Alert argues that the president’s policies towards China, Iran, energy and defence are all likely to present Russia with a difficult dilemma.

  • 08March 2017

    On 8 March, the EUISS and DG NEAR jointly organised a Seminar on building resilience in the EU’s surrounding regions. The Seminar brought together experts from Europe’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods, as well as European institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities in building resilience in the EU’s surrounding regions.

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    15February 2017

    This Chaillot Paper sets out to evaluate the scope and the actual implementation of the ‘pivot to the East’ announced by Moscow in the wake of its confrontation with the West over Ukraine. The paper highlights the areas of convergence and divergence between Moscow and Beijing, the asymmetries in interests and resources, and their wider implications for Russia’s policy in Asia – thus providing an insightful and balanced assessment of bilateral relations and their ‘systemic’ impact.

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    09December 2016

    In summer 2016, two unexpected events brought the issue of power transition to the top of the agenda in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. This Alert analyses how both transitions entail risks for Central Asia’s stability, but also potentially open up opportunities for further domestic liberalisation and regional cooperation.

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    09December 2016

    Russia’s recent actions in eastern Europe and significant military build-up along its Western border and in the enclave of Kaliningrad has rattled many nerves. This Brief explores how, as a consequence, all the countries in the Nordic-Baltic region are now rearming.

  • 25November 2016

    On 25 October, the EUISS, in collaboration with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the EU External Action Service (EEAS), gathered analysts and experts in a workshop to discuss the challenges and dilemmas of Russia’s political agenda.

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    03November 2016

    This Alert looks at how and why Russia is developing alternative historical narratives. Moscow hopes to achieve two goals: to propagate a black-and-white version of the past that it can deploy in foreign policy and, more importantly, to minimise the chances of domestic unrest by inhibiting freedom of thought.

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    05October 2016

    With Georgians set to go to the polls on Saturday 8 October, this Brief examines the changing dynamics of the country’s domestic politics and foreign relations over the last few years. What should be the priority for whoever wins the next parliamentary elections?

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    29July 2016

    Both Russia and ISIL/Daesh have engaged in aggressive messaging and deceptive media campaigns, albeit with distinct narratives, targets and audiences. This Report analyses the ‘what’ and the ‘how’; and also draws attention to strategic communications efforts undertaken by the EU.

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    23June 2016

    April this year saw a flare-up of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when fighting resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan. With the prospect of lasting settlement now more remote than ever, how do both sides see the situation on the ground? And what could be done to avoid further hostilities?

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  • 25February 2016

    Will the recent lifting of sanctions mark the beginning of a new European approach to the authorities in Minsk? How can the Union engage with the isolated country without compromising its principles?

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    05February 2016

    Euro-Atlantic audiences are increasingly alarmed at Russia’s behaviour at home and abroad. This Brief examines the Russian worldview in order to understand how and why the Russian leadership acts as it does.

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    17December 2015

    This Chaillot Paper charts the changes that have taken place in the countries and regions adjacent to the EU over the past two decades, and analyses how the upheavals of recent years have altered the EU’s relationship with and approach to its eastern and southern neighbours.

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    28October 2015

    This Alert shows how disquiet in the West about Russia's use of hybrid tactics has elevated concern about the phenomenon to the strategic level, in particular due to fears that hybrid operations may undermine the credibility of deterrence.

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    22October 2015

    This Alert, written in the wake of the presidential elections in Belarus which saw Alexander Lukashenko win a fifth term in office, examines the dilemma facing the EU as it alternates between carrot-and-stick tactics in its relations with ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’.

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    24September 2015

    This Report, the outcome of an EUISS Task Force on sanctions, offers valuable insight into a practice that is now part and parcel of the Union's ‘security’ policy toolbox. It aims to shed more light on an EU policy area that is still under-researched at a time when sanctions are becoming more important in terms of their number, scale and political salience.

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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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