In the current volatile climate, the EU needs a strategy towards Russia that goes beyond sanctions. In reviewing the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, the EU’s incoming leadership should be more sensitive towards the existing political, diplomatic, economic, energy and military ties between Russia and the countries in the common neighbourhood. After all, it is by exploiting these ties that Russia was able to turn this neighbourhood into an area of destructive competition − the primary victim of which is Ukraine. Understanding Russia’s perceptions and being sensitive to these longstanding ties does not mean justifying their use by the Kremlin. Nevertheless, factoring these ties into the EU’s policies vis-à-vis its Eastern neighbourhood is a prerequisite for more reflective, responsive and effective EU policies.
Laure Delcour is a Senior Research Fellow and IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques) Scientific coordinator, EU-FP7 project “Exploring the Security-Democracy Nexus in the Caucasus”. Hrant Kostanyan is an Associate Research Fellow at CEPS and a Special Research Fund Fellow at the Centre of EU Studies at Ghent University.