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The EU (European Union) is an economic and political union form by 28 member states and the countries are primarily located in Europe. The union has developed differently and varying relations with its different members. Russia is one of the countries that make the union. Russia-European affairs are the intercontinental relationships between the Russian federation and the European Union, which is the largest bordering state to the east. The EU is the largest trading partner of the Russians. The Russian Federation and the European Union are major partners in a number of key spheres, including economy, energy, internal and external aspects of security. However, the relation between the two parties has been found wanting. The cooperation and Partnership union between Russia and EU has been the framework of the EU-Russia relations since 1997 and regulates the political and economic relations between the two parties (Ross, 2004).
Despite there being a long history of the relationship between the Russian Federation and European Union members, the current state of the relations have raised eyes on the future of the cooperation between the two parties. In the year 201, the then Swedish prime minister invited the Russian president and one of the discussions was the possibilities of the Russia nation joining the EU establishment. However, this looks to be a too far away reality as Russia, is not ready to follow the specific rules that are set by the EU for its members. Russia’s economy is on a rapid growth and they do not want to take on the EU laws’ and set of rules they use. Their social and political status is not exactly favorable either (The U.S. and Europe Diverge on the Crimea Crisis, 2014).
In recent times, the relationship between the two parties has been brought into a sour one as the ‘2013 Vilnius Summit’ connecting the European union establishment with the countries to its east neighbors saw what ‘The Economist’ termed as “raw geopolitical contest” and wasn’t seen in Europe since coming to an conclusion of the Cold War. Russia tried to convince its “near abroad” nations to unite into its newly established ‘Eurasian Union’ instead of signing any contract with the European countries. The Russian administration under leadership of President Putin achieved a lot in persuading Armenia and Ukraine to stop their discussions with the EU and in its place commences talks with themselves (Ross, 2004). Nonetheless, the EU pinnacle leadership went forward with Moldova and Georgia discussions and in turn resulted to agreement with the EU community in spite of Russia’s resistance. Conversely, these divisions led to extensive remonstrations of the Ukraine that finally brought down the Ukrainian president this year (Lavrov, 2013).
Subsequent to the fall down of the famed pro-Russian regime in Ukraine, ‘Crimea 2014’ the Russian Federation commenced on a military intervention by putting up its military which was in ‘Crimea’, in addition to the ones on the Ukrainian boundaries. This action has greatly been faced with condemnation as EU leaders have viewed it as a raid. The current divisions between the two parties are believed to have a story and commenced sometimes back. The current hype of the crises is believed to have grown over time. The developed has brought along a strained relationship between Russia and EU. After accomplishing a number of victories within the country, such as: pacifying Chechnya, dealing with the oligarchs, and the avoiding of Russian breakdown, President Putin has focused attention during his 2nd term to foreign policy matters. The president engaged in a more and more revisionist strategy, with the main aim of rebuilding the country as well as its immediate neighborhood. These developments included standing up to Western dominance and pressure wherever possible (Ross, 2004).
Not unexpectedly, the Russian revisionism has led an ever more opposed relationship with Europe and the United States. The EU and United States are believed to develop their own interest and strategies in Russia’s geo-strategically significant neighborhood, ranging from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia. Indeed, from a western point of view, the list of Russian treacheries is now legion: on Kosovo, Russian support for Serbia is seen as a major obstacle to peace in the Balkans; in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Russia has checked Western oil interests and reversed Western attempts to promote political reform; and in Moldova and the Ukraine, Russia has acted as a counter-balance to European influence. Moreover, all of this has been paired with Russia’s tendency to ignore existing treaties, revise its economic contracts and repudiate internationally respected norms (Shevtsova, 2010).
There are numerous areas that have resulted to the strained relation between the EU and the Russians. For example, politically, the Russians has repudiated the OSCE and Helsinki Norms, disrespect of Council of Europe commitment and also breaching of Vienna Convention. Economically, the Russians failed to respect contacts, challenge of Energy Charter Treaty and disregard for WTO Norms. This in turn has led to the rise of opposition from the European members and the United States hence straining their relationship. The much published hype of the European frustration with Russian policies has been predominantly noticeable in three areas: (a) the Russian effort to divide the European Union by utilizing divide and rule strategies, (b) Russia’s move in setting itself up as an option to the EU in the familiar neighborhood and, (c) Russia’s own turn away from democracy and domestic reforms (Lavrov, 2013).
In its relation with the Europe, the Russians have off late looked to undermine the unity between themselves and the European Union through engaging into bilateral relations which are meant to play to its natural power merit. This means that, the Russians have dismissed the European commission and in turn sidelining it terming it as inflexible and very little importance. Moderately, the Russians have been trying to build relationships with specific European powers such as Germany, France, and Italy. The Russian president has tried and regularly made it in building close and pleasant relations with the leaders of these nations and Russia’s state-controlled energy industry has build up some of its more important partnerships with German, French, Portuguese and Italian businesses (Lavrov, 2013).
However, at the same time, Russia has variably overlooked or punished some European nations, mainly amongst the latest member state, that have shown them to be overtly critical of Russian policies (Shevtsova, 2010). Amongst others, Russia has interrupted its oil supplies to Latvia in 2003 and Lithuanian in 2006 for “technical reasons”; boycotted Polish meat exports; levied export tariffs on the sale of timber to Sweden and Finland; and it has turned a blind-eye to the harassment of Estonian and British diplomats, in 2007 and 2008 respectively, after high-profile disputes with these countries. The history of these developments has in turn resulted to the EU viewing the Russian as a threat to the unity of the EU members. This has in turn acted as catalyst to sour relations that have developed between the two parties. In addition, the current development has been seen as to have gone beyond repair as the two parties have been destined for eternal conflict (Ross, 2004).
Concerted Russian attempts to open up European separation and the lack of European Union unity, have split the EU into two schools of reflection on the correct way to be adopted in reference to how the relationships with Russia should advance. On one side, one school of thought has regarded Russia as a prospective partner. The group known as ‘friend of Russia’ which has countries such as; Germany, France, Italy, Greece. Spain among others has held to a policy that favors a close dialogue connecting the Russians and the EU as well as supporting economic cooperation as they have supported that this will and is the only chance for influencing Russians foreign policy behavior (Lavrov, 2013).
On the other side of the Russian-EU relation, there is the “Russia realist” group. This contains nations such as, UK and numerous of the fresh member states of Eastern and Central Europe. These nations, have argued for a more forceful foreign policy approach, arguing that “they know Russia better” and that Moscow only understands the language of power and force, and in turn have turned to be the Russian opposes and hence redefining the EU Russia relations. The increasing pressure of this group is reflected in the escalating criticism of Russia from formerly “pro-Russian” countries such as Germany. Indeed, Germany is currently split between the more overtly “anti-Russian” Angela Merkel and her more “pro-Russian” coalition partner. Should Germany shift more pronounced towards the “Russia realist” camp, this might well tip the balance of power within Europe towards this group (Shevtsova, 2010). The inability of the EU to pursue a unified line towards Russia undermines its ability to develop a pragmatic relationship with this important country and over the last 15 years, the different elements of the EU have acknowledged this problem. The diversity of interests within the EU continues to undermine its ability to formulate coherent and practical solutions. There is a greater urgency for some states (those with common borders or who depend significantly on Russia for energy imports) to develop relations with Russia, while other states simply have different priorities. This makes real progress in EU-Russia relations to a certain extent dependent on which member governments presides over the European Council at a given time (Europe’s Risky Russian Energy Habit, 2014).
Moving into new relationship between the Russian and European Union
Looking into imminent elimination of the immediate obstacle into the negotiation of a new partnership between the two parties, the road has to better relations has looked once again promising. Officials have vowed for more punitive international actions aimed at Russia economy. United States President at a news meeting in Asian country (South Korea) believed he and other leaders from the European nations would consider sanctions against the Russian country especially at this time the Ukraine crisis are worsening (The U.S. and Europe Diverge on the Crimea Crisis, 2014). One of the measures that have been taken by the EU and the west is the introduction of sanctions, and implementing financial and visa limitations on almost 30 Russians and Ukrainian officials (Europe’s Risky Russian Energy Habit, 2014). Ukraine amplified its bank rates in an effort to guard its economy from the chaos generated by aggressive objections and Russia’s forces involvement in Crimea (Shevtsova, 2010). The economic relation connecting the US, European Union, and the Russia is unbalanced the approach from the United States and US towards the Russian county is different. The main reason behind the disparity has been laid to the fact that, the euro-zone has only just come out from its own catastrophe, and observers say it may wary of hastily ending connections with such a influential financially viable associate. Its dependence on gas out of Russia would also feed concern. In contrast, the United States, is weaning itself off Russia’s power supply and its trade connections is much less entangled (Europe’s Risky Russian Energy Habit, 2014).
In summary, the relationship between the Russian federation and the European Union cannot be said to good or healthy. However, it can’t be said to be have ended despite the growing animosity and unrest between the two parties. With the current state the relationship between the two can be said to be headed to forever conflict. Despite Russia being more into the EU than the Asia, the country has embarked on establishing itself in the economic front as well as in terms of political aspects. EU consent against individuals and Russian officials, introduced in March, may have accelerated this trend or widening the gap between the two parties. But real financial endorsements against Russia the so-called “phase three” have not been triggered yet meaning there is still a lot that remains when the relation between the comes into the play.
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