The New European Disorder

The EU cannot hope to transform Russia, but it should be aware of the price of secluding it

Publication cover

Europe should forge a new post-Crimea relationship with Russia through the Eurasian Economic Union engaging Moscow through economic competition rather than military confrontation. This essay, the “The New European Disorder” suggests that the conflict in Ukraine has irretrievably broken the post-Cold War European order leaving no return to business as usual with Russia. But it has also not brought us back to the Cold War. The authors say “Europe must acknowledge that it has failed to understand post-Soviet Russia. Instead the EU must co-exist with its powerful neighbour, perhaps by cooperating with Russia’s own integration project, the Eurasian Union (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and in future probably Armenia and Kyrgyzstan). The EEU is certainly not the answer to everything……but it could be a start towards negotiating a new European institutional order.”

The authors also argue that the sanctions policy is not a long-term solution. We risk increasing Russian isolationism, encouraging Russia to engage in military rather than economic competition, damaging Western trade with Russia, and encouraging other non-aligned powers to hedge against sanctions to protect themselves. The essay looks beyond sanctions to explore how Europe can encourage the development of a Russia the EU can live with instead of trying to re-fashion it in our image. The authors cite the United States’ relationship with China – two regions co-evolving and engaging with each other but with clearly demarcated red lines – as a model for a new EU relationship with Russia. The essay outlines a roadmap for rebuilding engagement with Russia by:

  • Maintaining NATO as the major provider of credible security guarantees for the territorial integrity of EU member states.
  • Considering the expulsion of Russia from “value institutions” like the Council of Europe to protect the liberal nature of the EU project.
  • Engaging with the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union to acknowledge officially that Russia has the right to have an integration process of its own.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of their individual authors.

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