Edited by Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt, Moa Mårtensson, Lars Oxelheim and Thomas Persson
Chapter 9: The EU’s relations with Russia: off balance and beyond repair?
‘Russia is our largest neighbour and a strategic partner with whom we have been building a solid and mutually beneficial relationship. It is in our common interest to develop further our bilateral relationship and the legal framework that underpins it’ (European Commission, 2013a [IP/13/490]). With these words, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso described the relationship between the European Union and the Russian Federation – and the EU’s ambitions for it – ahead of the EU–Russia Summit Meeting in June 2013. Just a few months later, however, the envisioned strategic partnership deteriorated into serious conflict. How and why was the ‘strategic partnership’ between the EU and Russia thrown off balance? The question warrants investigation. It also requires an assessment of the consequences of confrontation for the future of EU–Russian relations. Have more than two decades of cooperation and 32 high-level summit meetings helped build a strong enough backbone for the relationship to carry on, despite the conflict? Or is a complete breakdown and a fundamental transformation of the EU–Russian relationship the necessary fallout?
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