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Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations, A by Mark Leonard

By Mark Leonard

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Extra resources for Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations, A

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They have tended to 59 A POWER AUDIT OF EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS ECFR/02 November 2007 60 implement a ‘Russia first’ policy of granting concessions on visas, trade and political relations to Russia before other countries in the common neighbourhood. For fear of upsetting the Kremlin, they oppose a proactive EU in the Eastern neighbourhood. People who favour ‘soft containment’ have argued that the neighbourhood policy is the most powerful tool for blunting Russia’s influence. They have urged the EU to support governments in places like Georgia and Ukraine in their disputes with Russia, and to push for a rapid expansion of NATO to these countries.

Europeans should begin by recalibrating their international diplomacy. It is no secret that Russia craves recognition in international politics. Its government’s self-perception as a great power is linked to its participation in institutions like the G8 and EU-Russia summits. That is what leads proponents of ‘soft containment’ to advocate excluding Russia from the G8 and blocking the negotiation of a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. On the other hand, proponents of ‘creeping integration’ are opposed to all policies which would cut off contact.

The ‘Friendly Pragmatists’ also find themselves at the mercy of Russian foreign policy. If they do not develop a proactive stance, Russia can easily renege on deals, or play them against each other as it does with Austria and Hungary. Their ‘Frosty’ counterparts suffer a similar fate of having to react to Russian policy moves rather than setting the agenda. For example, Russia has tried to isolate Estonia and Britain, threatening to turn them into ‘veto countries’. Finally, the ‘New Cold Warriors’, especially Poland under its previous government, are already isolated and have lost much political capital for that reason.

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