Reformatting the EU–Russia Pseudo-Partnership: What a Difference a Crisis Makes



“My impression is that the Western elites just hate Russia … We can forget about integration, and it is sad,” argued Vladimir from Smolensk on the BBC forum on Russia–EU relations, where I was invited as a guest expert 1. Opinions of this kind illustrate that claims that Russia is transforming itself into an oversized but otherwise entirely “normal” member of the European family are detached from reality. The disconnect between the discourse of “ever-closer partnership” and the reality of estrangement has its roots in the Kosovo war, which broke the rapprochement momentum in Russian–European relations. Each of the following often overlapping crises – the brutal Second Chechen War, the expropriation of the oil company Yukos and imprisonment of its owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and the spectacular victory of the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine – increased Russian hostility toward the expanding Europe. Between 2005 and 2008, economic ties between Russia and the EU grew spectacularly, but mutual trust simultaneously declined; with the arrival of the still-evolving recession, trade and investment have contracted dramatically, and trust has taken a further nosedive. This trajectory can only be described as sad indeed, but toward the start of a new decade, a hesitant climb toward better cooperation provides a bit of ground for more positive perceptions.


European Security Orange Revolution Eastern Partnership Russian Leadership European Relation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)OsloNorway

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