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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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  • Download Brief
    06August 2020
    China’s and Russia’s shared antagonism against the West fuels cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels. In its normative dimension, this cooperation is driven by the overarching aim of defining and re-interpreting existing international norms in a way that reflects the two countries’ shared principles, worldviews and threat perceptions. This Brief examines the intricacies of the Sino-Russian normative relationship and the key challenges it poses to the EU.
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    31July 2020
    Concerns about the ero­sion of the ‘taboo’ on chemical weapons use have deepened in recent years, in particular following the chemical weapons attacks that have taken place in the Syrian conflict. The sanctions regime against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons which the EU adopted in October 2018 constitutes the Union’s first coercive instrument against chemical weapons, and is an attempt by the EU to support the multilateral chemical disarmament regime after efforts to frame a response via the United Nations Security Council failed.
  • Podcast season 2 logo
    15July 2020

    The EUISS' ‘What if’ podcast returns for a second season, this time looking at the foreign policy implication of the covid19 crisis.

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    07July 2020
    This Brief analyses the current dynamics underpinning the Belarusian-Russian relationship and its possible future trajectory in the light of new factors which limit Belarus’s room for foreign policy manoeuvre. It highlights how, under increasing pressure from Russia and faced with domestic challenges, President Lukashenka may be hard-pressed to maintain the delicate balancing act that he has performed up to now to ensure his regime’s survival.
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    11June 2020
    The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak has had particularly disruptive consequences for conflict-affected countries around the world. Armed groups have capitalised on the crisis, while the global distraction caused by the pandemic has made it difficult to seize opportunities for peace. This Brief analyses key repercussions in conflict-affected countries in general, and in five countries in particular: Colombia, Libya, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen.
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    27May 2020
    In recent years Japan has sought to rekindle diplomatic, political and economic ties with Eastern Europe. This Brief examines how Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 may have motivated this charm offensive, prompted by Tokyo’s fears that such aggression could potentially be replicated in the Far East, as well as by concerns about transfers of military technology from Eastern Europe to China and the weakening of the global non-proliferation regime. It shows how Japan’s foreign policy goals in the eastern neighbourhood overlap with those of the EU, and highlights the potential for strengthening synergies between them.
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    30April 2020
    In the three decades after the Cold War, the perception of ‘Arctic exceptionalism’, the sense that the Arctic region is immune from broader geopolitical tensions, prevailed. However, this notion is currently being challenged: climate change is accelerating the opening of new maritime trade routes and exploitation of natural resources in the region, while great power competition between the US, Russia and China in the Arctic is intensifying, changing regional power dynamics.
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    31March 2020
    Russia is mounting a remarkable political comeback in sub-Saharan Africa through a ‘low costs, high returns and visibility’ approach. Can a coherent strategy be discerned behind this push? And how is sub-Saharan Africa reacting to Russia’s overtures and what does it mean for the EU?
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    28February 2020
    This Brief analyses the peace efforts in Ukraine and argues that it would be in the country’s interest to continue decentralising and strengthening local governance structures, including in the east. But how does Moscow view this?
  • Participants of EUISS side event at MSC
    14February 2020

    The EUISS hosted a foresight side event at the global security forum.

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  • 02October 2017

    On 2 October 2017, the EUISS and the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU organised a high-level conference on hybrid threats. During three panels focusing on the current state of play, cyber resilience and strategic communications, the conference encouraged debate about the efforts made by the EU to counter hybrid threats.

  • 03May 2017

    In 2017, for the third year running, the EU-Russia Forum was co-hosted by the EUISS and supported by the EEAS. The forum convened senior officials and experts from across Europe, Russia, and the United States to evaluate the current state of EU-Russia relations and propose ways forward.

  • 03May 2017

    The roundtable discussion looked into the concept of a newly emerging partnership between Russia and China. Speakers identified certain areas of rapprochement between the two countries, but overall concluded that the differences outweigh them, and that there is no new actual new Eastern Partnership formed yet.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 15December 2015

    On 15 December 2015, the EUISS hosted the third and final meeting of the Task Force on Russian futures at its headquarters in Paris.

  • 22October 2015

    The second meeting of the EUISS Task Force on Russia’s Futures took place on the 22nd of October 2015 in Brussels.

  • 24September 2015

    On 24 September, EUISS launched a Task Force on Russia's futures. The Task Force aims to explore the horizon 2020–2025 by creating a core group of experts on Russian politics who will then generate a report about key trends by the end of next year.

  • 06November 2014

    In partnership with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the EUISS presented the abridged German version of its Yearbook of European of European Security 2014 on 6 November in the Austrian capital.

  • 11September 2014

    The EUISS held its annual conference on 11/12 September in central Paris. This year’s event, entitled ‘European security in a changing global environment’, was an opportunity to convene numerous policy planners and think tankers from across the Europe to discuss European security during a period of major institutional change within the Union.

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