Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference with Austrian The sanctions reveal that E.U.-Russia relations are at their lowest. Two recent images from the French election capture the current EU-Russia relationship. The first, from 24 March, shows Russian. These values underpin the EU-Russia relationship. The current legal basis for EU-Russia relations is the Partnership and.
This all led to confrontation on issues ranging from basics of democratic rule and principles of governance, separation of powers, human rights and freedoms to the approach toward the resolution of almost all major international crises.
Many contemporary politicians and commentators in Moscow tend to ignore the fact that due to the influx of European technological prowess in the eighth century Russia has become a powerful empire with considerable military might and diplomatic clout only as a result of swift Westernisation under Peter the Great without whom it would have evolved into a semi-colony like the ancient China.
It is thus that it has become a major player in the European affairs. Ever since the 14th century, European written sources contained statements mentioning the dream for a united Europe. The quest for this only heightened after two World Wars with their terrible scourge.
It has proved that not only sovereign states can find satisfactory peaceful solutions to long-term disputes which had previously led to devastating conflicts, but also how they can explore opportunities through mutually beneficial cooperation rather than traditional competition.
Moscow regarded this with great and ever-growing suspicion as the consolidation of opposing economic and military potentials and a kind of springboard for its archrival the USA. Then and now Moscow made fun of the EU as a stooge and protectorate of the USA, an entity whose foreign policy and even economy are controlled from the other shore of the Atlantic. Then and now the Russian strategy was to unravel European integration, to confront it with its own integration projects and tear off Europe from the US command and cooperation.
Winning the normative war with Russia: An EU-Russia Power Audit
In this vein, Moscow had a stake in those European forces that argued for a constructive, respectful dialogue with Moscow. However, today, after the relations have soured so much, it is clear that Moscow and Brussels are to formulate and promote a new pattern of interaction having in mind how closely they are connected historically, economically and politically. Officially Moscow is pleading for reviving an equitable partnership and an even-handed cooperation between the EU and the Russia-dominated alliances and groupings.
This could be a hard task in the ambiance of a new self-assertive and stronger Russia and with the EU becoming more politicised and tumultuous, as both sides are turning into rather rigid, inflexible negotiating partners.
It stresses the need for a stronger Europe, especially now, in the aftermath of the UK referendum on EU membership. However, the goal of enhancing ties and dialogue with Brussels, even in times of crisis and rising divergences is evident to many Russian experts and politicians.
That does not mean, of course, that Moscow will stop to exploit the growing weakness of European institutions: All this could lead either to a kind of catharsis like the Chinese see any crisis as a source for new opportunities or to an imminent overall debacle.
The economic crisis that started in has not yet ended. Russian experts like to stress that almost no strictly political action plans since the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty have proven very successful. The common line in such analysis is that the EU is now divided at least in three groups: They emphasise that European unity is in crisis, and it remains unclear whether the EU can recover its overall effectiveness and its ability to promote the development of each Member State.
The necessity of Russia-EU cooperation However, the current turn of tide in European integration is not a sign of death. Germany will continue to pursue its long-time policy of EU consolidation trying to bring the integration process to its final stage. Also, many states are actually economically dependent on or benefit from Brussels. Still Russia is working hard to show it is reorienting eastwards; its trade with China in for the first time prevailing over the one with Germany.
Parliamentary Defense Committee chairman Allan Widman stated, "The old military doctrine was shaped after the last Cold War when Sweden believed that Russia was on the road to becoming a real democracy that would no longer pose a threat to this country and its neighbors.
Brigadier General Meelis Kiili stated, "The best deterrent is not only armed soldiers, but armed citizens, too. Relations between the U. Brian Whitmore of Radio Free Europe stated that the case "illustrates the Kremlin's campaign to intimidate its neighbors, flout global rules and norms, and test NATO's defenses and responses.
She said that the UK Government would "consider in detail the response from the Russian State" and in the event that there was no credible response, the government would "conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom" and measures would follow.
Use of migration issues[ edit ] In Januaryseveral Finnish authorities suspected that Russians were enabling migrants to enter Finland, and Ylethe national public-broadcasting company, reported that a Russian border guard had admitted the Federal Security Service 's involvement.
Kremlin's Traditional Agenda and the Export of Values to Central Europe Russian and pro-Russian media and organisations have produced fake stories and distorted real events.
One of the most widely distributed fake stories was that of year old Lisa F. In March a Russian TV team reportedly paid Swedish teenagers to stage a scene of anti-government protests in Rinkeby. The Czech Republic noted that Russia had set up about 40 Czech-language websites publishing conspiracy theories and false reports. He stated, "There is a systematic lying campaign going on In fact, Russia was not a defining factor — or even a factor at all — in any of these events.
This tendency of interpreting every election or event through the Russian lens is counterproductive.
Russian efforts can only play on pre-existing social cleavages. Arguably, their efforts can amplify existing tensions, but most European societies are proving quite adept at polarising themselves.
Reducing everything to Russian meddling leads to dangerous neglect of the real issues behind home-grown polarisation and encourages demagogic politicians to use the threat from Russia opportunistically.
For decades, European elites have felt basically safe on the home front, but they can no longer take such domestic immunity for granted. Russia has induced fear and occasionally derailed the European agenda, by making Europeans fear the Russian hand when they should focus on their own shortcomings. However, in the context of the normative contest, there is also some good news for the West: No European country alone can compete effectively in the normative struggle with Russia.
A decade ago, a lack of unity was the chief reason that Europe had no effective policy on Russia. Today, the EU may face various crises and lack self-confidence, but it has overcome many of the issues that once paralysed its Russia policy.
Europe still seems to think of itself as deeply split on Russia. And Moscow has noticed. Europe is now united in its assessment of Russia. This sharply contrasts with the situation ten years ago, when Baltic states and Poland viewed Russia as a consolidating authoritarian state with dangerous ambitions abroad, while Germany still saw it as a country that was democratising — even if slowly, with multiple detours and setbacks.
Now, European policymakers overwhelmingly perceive Russia as posing a normative challenge. They view Moscow as seeking to dismantle the post-cold war European order. At the same time, the narratives Moscow promotes — which paint Russia as the victim of Western policies and its actions as forced responses to Western assertiveness — have only very limited traction in a few EU member states such as Austria, Cyprus, and Greece. European views are also significantly aligned in assessments of the military threat from Russia.
Six EU countries think that Russia poses a direct military threat to them, and to Europe as a whole; ten believe that Russia might threaten the fringe states of the EU; and five others see Russia as a military threat not to the EU, but to non-member states in eastern Europe. These negative expectations even affect the Arctic, where the relationship between Russia and EU countries has in fact been mostly constructive. Overall, bad experiences with Russia on issues such as Ukraine, Syria, and interference in European domestic politics have now spilled over into low expectations from nearly everyone in nearly all areas.
This solidarity translates into strong support for sanctions, even though member states are broadly ambivalent about how well the measures work. Most countries think that sanctions against Russia are necessary. Southern Europeans lend their support to the EU on Russia as a down payment on support for other, priority issues from states in the east and the north that view the country as an existential threat.
Most governments are under some domestic pressure to lift sanctions — stemming from political parties or business lobbies — but this pressure is strong and meaningful only in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and likely also — after its latest elections — Italy.
There is also considerable unanimity on when to end sanctions on Russia. The overwhelming majority of member states believe that the EU can only lift sanctions once Ukraine has regained control of its eastern border, while seven countries are ready to consider gradually easing sanctions if Russia starts making steps towards withdrawing from eastern Ukraine.
Only Hungary says that sanctions definitely do not work and should be dropped as soon as possible — but even Budapest has not come close to breaking ranks on their renewal.EU-Russia Relations
Member states want normative questions to be handled by the EU as a whole; only Hungary, Greece, Austria, and Bulgaria have any faith in the bilateral track. More importantly, there has been no serious effort to challenge consensus European policies.
Brussels insiders say that the rollover of sanctions twice per year has, if anything, become easier — despite some sotto voce grumbling. Countries that do not like sanctions, however, tend to emphasise the need for universal compliance — and rightly so. Member states need to pick their fights with Brussels. Russia is a priority for those who feel threatened by it, but it is less important to those who do not.
It is not all togetherness. Hungary and perhaps Greece are examples of countries in which disagreements with the EU mainstream on asylum policy and the protection of civil society, and the euro respectively correlate with a divergent stance on Russia.
Indeed, Hungary stands out as the one EU country that, in the context of normative war, often takes a stance closer to the Russian side of the argument.
Overall, Russia may still try to sow discord within the EU, but it is far less able to play member states off against each other than it was ten years ago. But it is clearly not enough to manage the normative challenge that Russia poses.
For that, one also needs policy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once jokingly added a third: EU member states generally agree that Russia is to blame. Sanctions on Russia and troop reinforcements in eastern EU states have provided some answers to the question of what is to be done. Nonetheless, the EU cannot prevail in a normative war if it does not know how to tackle the challenger. To be effective, the EU also needs a common Russia strategy that reflects not just Europe, but also Russia.
What can it achieve? How can Russia fit into the liberal world order that the EU seeks to promote? How can the EU influence Moscow? Answering these questions is difficult and risks dividing Europe on Russia once again. But an effective Russia strategy for a normative war needs to accommodate an agreement on concrete policies. The EU will need to strategise, not just sermonise. The — clearly non-exhaustive — list of issues below highlights some areas in which a lack of both clarity and a joint approach hampers EU policymaking.
For instance, the EU does not have a common strategy on sanctions, its eastern neighbourhood, or energy security. In addition, there is also confusion about methods — such as dialogue with Russia — and the division of work between member states and EU institutions.
Russia–European Union relations - Wikipedia
For EU countries, such an approach is simply unacceptable — made taboo by their twentieth-century experiences with spheres of influence. Ukraine is a prime example here: Russia had extensive leverage over its economy and leadership, only to see it swept away in a popular revolution. Or one could look at Belarus and Armenia: Europe cannot possibly endow Moscow with the sphere of influence it craves: But, similarly, the EU lacks a viable policy for addressing this conceptual clash.
Russia is determined to resist any such development, while the countries themselves are going through a long and bumpy political transformation, characterised by ongoing tension between corrupt elites and maturing societies that demand a greater say. There is not a desire for EU membership everywhere and, even where there is, the reforms required by the accession process would infringe on the vested interests of powerful domestic constituencies.
It would not mean that West had brought Russia around to the ideas of cooperative, mutually beneficial arrangements that Europe sees as the goal for the continent. And, conversely, if these countries fail to reform, they still retain their rights to sovereignty and territorial integrity.
To prevail, the EU needs to focus not just on promoting democracy, but also on upholding the principles of the OSCE-based post-cold war European order. It needs to find ways to boost the sovereignty of these countries without an immediate membership perspective. The demand is there; Belarus, for example, has clearly asked: The goal and future of sanctions The EU has maintained unity on sanctions for four years. The absence of immediate results has led some policymakers — most notably in Italy, but also in Austria and Hungary — to declare that sanctions do not work.
EU-Russia Relations from a Russian Point of View | Heinrich Böll Stiftung European Union
There is no doubt, though, that sanctions have had economic effects. The political effects are less clear, but still detectable. Inthe sanctions did not succeed at convincing political and business elites to put pressure on the Kremlin. Byhowever, a prominent group of technocrats started speaking up in favour of improving relations with the West.
The lesson here is that sanctions are inherently a long-term instrument. They do not work in isolation, but in combination with other policies and developments.
Furthermore, in a normative war, the stated aim may not even be the most important one. Energy security The Russians have often tried to use their energy relationship with various European states to corrupt and divide the EU. In the last ten years or so, however, Moscow has had little success in this effort.
The EU has done many other things to diversify its energy supply away from Russia: Today, Russia remains the largest supplier of gas to the EU, but it cannot use gas as a weapon in the normative struggle in the way that it did ten years ago. However, disputes around the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline — which would run from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea — show that there continue to be important disagreements.
Unlike the debate over Nord Stream 1, that over Nord Stream 2 is not about how to deal with Russia but rather about competing business interests and differing views of energy security and diversification. Nor does Nord Stream 2 divide member states the way Nord Stream 1 did: Even so, the views of EU states do not provide a basis for sound policy.
Some countries in northern Europe — such as Denmark and, to a lesser extent, Sweden — consider the pipeline to be a security concern, fearing that Russia will use maintenance as a cover for covert operations. Others, such as Finland, see it as a purely commercial endeavour. Some countries view Nord Stream 2 as contrary to the letter or the spirit of the Energy Union, while others believe that the pipeline should be allowed because it predates the concept of the Energy Union.
Finally, Germany considers the supply of Russian gas via multiple pipelines to be sufficient energy diversification if the product can later be freely sold in an interconnected European market, while Poland believes that true diversification and energy security are unachievable without greater involvement of suppliers other than Russia.
Ultimately, who is right matters less than resolving the disagreement. European unity on Russia is far more important than the energy market effects of Nord Stream 2.
The latter can always be mitigated, but the Russians are already seeking to use disagreements over Nord Stream 2 to undermine broader European unity on Russia policy.