Winning the normative war with Russia

How Europe can respond to the Russian challenge


Kadri Liik, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

Robert Cooper, British diplomat; former Counsellor at the EEAS

Martin Harris, Director, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Johanneke de Hoogh, Head of Division, Northern and Central Europe, Eastern Partnership Countries, Russia, Central Asia, MFA Netherlands

Chaired by

Quentin Peel, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

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 published a new report: Winning the normative war with Russia: an 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 a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the recently published ‘EU-Russia Power Audit'. Previously director of the International Centre for Defence Studies in Estonia.

Sir Robert Francis Cooper is a British diplomat, previously a Special Adviser at the European Commission and Director General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the Council of the European Union.

Martin Harris is the Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). He was previously the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Moscow from April 2014 to December 2017.

Johanneke de Hoogh heads the division for Northern and Central Europe, Eastern Partnership Countries, Russia, Central Asia. She previously served as the Deputy Head of Mission in the Dutch Embassy in Cuba, as well as in embassies in France and Angola.

Quentin Peel is an Associate Fellow with the Europe Programme at Chatham House. Previously at Financial Times he served successively as Southern Africa correspondent, Africa editor, European Community correspondent and Brussels bureau chief, Moscow correspondent, and chief correspondent in Germany.