What does Russia want?

What are Russia’s strategic goals and how should Europe respnd to them?


Kadri Liik, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
Nicu Popescu, Senior Analyst, EUISS
Dmitry Suslov, Programme Director, Valdai Discussion Club
Nathalie Tocci, Director, IAI

Chaired by

Fredrik Wesslau, Director, Wider Europe Programme, ECFR

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) cordially invites you to an on-the-record event ‘What does Russia want?’ to discuss Russia’s strategic goals and Europe’s responses to them.

That Russia is a “challenge” to the West has become conventional wisdom. Russia seems to be creating obstacles to the West in all policy fields and in many geographical areas – including, in recent years, the domestic affairs of the European countries and the US. The poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter may be the most recent manifestation of the problem.  But what is missing is clarity about the nature of the challenge. What does Russia want – and why? What are the means it uses? How well does it link its tactics to strategy and coordinate its activities? Finally, what are the right ways for Europe to respond? 

As we enter Putin’s fourth term – perhaps his last – ECFR has prepared a EU-Russia Power Audit which argues that Russia’s challenge to Europe is global in its reach and normative in its nature. Russia wants to undo many of the basic aspects of the post-Cold War European order. Europe’s response, however, should focus less on Russia and more on Europe itself – it should address the drawbacks and deficiencies in the Western model, and thereby reconfirm the continuing viability of Europe as one of the key norm-setters in the world.

Kadri Liik (@kadriliik) is Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming ‘EU-Russia Power Audit’. Previously director of the International Centre for Defence Studies in Estonia.

Nathalie Tocci (@NathalieTocci) is Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome, Honorary Professor at the University of Tübingen and Special Adviser to EU HRVP Federica Mogherini. 

Nicu Popescu (@nicupopescu) is Senior Analyst at EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris. He also teaches at Sciences Po Paris. Previously worked as Advisor on foreign policy and EU affairs for the Prime Minister of Moldova.

Dmitry Suslov is Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club and Deputy Director at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Fredrik Wesslau (@FWesslau) is Director of the Wider Europe Programme at ECFR. He has spent the past decade working for the EU, OSCE, and UN on conflicts and crisis management in the Balkans, South Caucasus, and Africa.