A series of incidents including the Polish agricultural row, the Estonian monument crisis, the Lufthansa Cargo dispute and the Litvinenko affair, have suggested that bilateral disputes between EU member states and Russia have begun to dominate overall EU–Russian relations. This paper employs a case-study approach to provide an in-depth analysis of selected disputes and reviews several questions of importance for EU coherence: What kinds of issues are at the heart of bilateral disputes? What strategies do member states adopt to resolve them? Under what circumstances are disputes raised to the EU level and what measures does the EU take? These questions are examined along with those surrounding EU solidarity in the midst of bilateral frictions. Drawing insights from the case studies, the paper concludes with a set of guidelines for the EU’s approach.