Saturday

25th May 2019

EU split into several camps on Russia strategy, says report

Within the European Union there are a least five camps when it comes to dealing with Russia, ranging from the 'Trojan horse' countries to the 'new Cold warriors', says a new study analysing the bloc's divided approach to its giant neighbour to the east.

According to a fresh analysis by new thinktank European Council on Foreign Relations, the EU "has begun to behave as if it were subordinate to an increasingly assertive Russia" largely due to its own disunity.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The report points out that Russia is "picking off" single member states to make long term energy deals, that Moscow has "shut the Union out" of Caucasus and Central Asia, and is blocking an agreement on the status of Kosovo in the UN.

"Russia is emerging as an ideological alternative to the EU (...) Whereas the EU stands for an idea of order based on consensus, interdependence and the rule of law, Russian foreign policy is motivated by a quest for power, independence and control."

The report notes that Russia is able to do this even though the EU's combined economy is 15 times the size of Russia's, its military budget is seven times higher, and its population three times the size of Russia.

The analysis also dismisses the idea that the disunity on Russia - an issue it says is the most "contentious" for the EU since the Iraq war - has become worse since eastern European states joined in 2004.

"EU divisions on Russia are more complex and surprising than a simple cleavage between old and new member states."

Cyprus and Greece Trojan horses for Russia

Greece and Cyprus for "ancient cultural" and "more recent geopolitical and economic" links are considered to be the Trojan horses for Russian views in the EU.

The reports notes that for Greece, Russia is an important arms supplier, Russian tourists spend twice as much per head as other tourists in Greece and Russia supplies 75 percent of its gas.

A senior official from a member state is quoted as saying: "Every possible step in the eastern neighbourhood that might even theoretically upset the Russians has been opposed by Greece."

For its part, Cyprus is formally the biggest investor in Russia because Cyprus is "used by Russian big business to create offshore firms." Russia also supports Cyprus in the conflict over northern Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Germany, France, Italy and Spain are seen as "strategic partners" who have built special bilateral relationships with Russia, sometimes undermining EU common positions on issues such as energy.

A further ten countries - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Portugal – are put into a "friendly pragmatic" category; seen as putting business interests with Moscow first.

The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Romania and the United Kingdom are considered to be "frosty pragmatic", critical of Russia but still prepared to do business with it.

At the most Russia-unfriendly end of the spectrum are Lithuania and Poland - the "new Cold-Warriors". They have build up an "overtly hostile relationship" with Moscow.

An avant garde group on Russia

The report suggests a whole new way of handling Russia is needed as the two current models - either involving Russia in as many EU policies through "creeping integration" or treating Russia as a threat - are both fundamentally flawed.

Instead it suggests that the basis for relations with Russia should be that it respects the rule of law rather than focussing on the "long term goal" of a liberal, democratic Russia.

Such an approach would be in the interest of all five camps notes the report saying that Russia's "selective application of the law" affects all member states.

But the report is less confident on how such a unified approach would be achieved among the 27 member states noting only that it will "require hard work, intelligent leadership and political will (…)"

It suggests that an "avant garde" of countries might be needed to take the lead on the big questions with Russia to do with energy, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Ukraine.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

EU urges US not to start war with Iran

Europe's top diplomats have said US actions risked triggering a conflict with Iran, as America makes plans to pour troops into Middle East in echoes of Iraq war.

EU-Sahel talks next week amid 'unprecedented attacks'

Officials from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are meeting EU foreign, defence, and development ministers next week in Brussels. The visit comes amid "unprecedented levels" of armed attacks, says the UN.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  2. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  3. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  4. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  5. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  6. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  7. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  8. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us