The Eastern Enlargement in 2004 brought the EU at the doorstep to the Russian Federation. Although having shared a common border with Russia since 1995 when Finland became a member of the EU, the situation now is qualitatively different. Russia’s former direct sphere of influence is now integrated within the framework of the EU.
Due to this relatively new situation of immediate neighbourhood without any ideologic cutting line or cordon sanitaire1, it is likely that new patterns concerning the Russia-EU relationship arise. Particularly, the Russian perspective on the EU might change qualitatively, with the latter expanding to territories that were just fifteen years ago under direct control of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR).
This paper argues that Russia faces a dilemma concerning its relations with the EU. On the one hand, the EU constitutes a competitor for post-Soviet space. On the other hand, Russia needs the EU as a partner, particularly in the economic field. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to examine Russia’s perception towards the EU’s enlargement policy. In the first part, base lines of Russian foreign policy since 1990 will be identified by applying theoretical approaches of international relations to these developments. The role the EU played in Russia’s foreign policy perception will be emdedded into the broader scope of Russia’s general approach to international affairs. Russia’s specific perception attributed to EU’s Eastern enlargement policy will be the focus of the third part of the paper. Identifying patterns of Russian responses to the dynamics of EU’s Eastern Enlargement and the implications of these responses for Russia-EU relations will also be discussed.
Table of Contents
2. The Russian Federation: Defining its Role in International Politics
a. Liberal Internationalism: The Beginnings of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy
b. Multipolarity as the Objective: Re-orientation under Primakov
c. Russian Foreign Policy under Putin
3. Russia’s Perception of EU’s Enlargement Policy
a. The Russian Perspective on EU Eastern Enlargement
i) The System of Reference: NATO Enlargement
ii) EU Eastern Enlargement: The Economic Perspective
iii) EU Eastern Enlargement: The Political Perspective
iv) EU Eastern Enlargement: The Geopolitical Perspective
b. The Russian Perspective on the Dynamics of EU Enlargement
4. The Impact of Russia’s new Perception on Russia-EU Relations
6. List of Abbreviations
8. Declaration on Plagiarism and Word Lenght
In May 2004, seven formerly Soviet satellite countries joined the European Union (EU). In 2007, the enlargement process of the EU is likely to proceed with another two former Soviet satellites, Romania and Bulgaria becoming new members. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government, whose country shares a common border of almost 1600 km with Russia, has commited itself to enhance political and economic reform processes. Its strategic long-term goal is the accession to the EU. Although it is rather unlikely that accession talks with the Ukraine will start in the near future, the course adopted by the government is obvious. Georgia, a former Soviet republic as well, formulated back in 2003 its strategic long-term objective which is becoming a member of the EU.
The Eastern Enlargement in 2004 brought the EU at the doorstep to the Russian Federation. Although having shared a common border with Russia since 1995 when Finland became a member of the EU, the situation now is qualitatively different. Russia’s former direct sphere of influence is now integrated within the framework of the EU. And Russia’s taking sides with the pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine’s presidential elections in November 2004 showed its eagerness to prevent the loss of an important strategic partner in the Western CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region. Although Russia’s political and military influence has been significantly weakened and become nonexistent respectively in the Central and Eastern European States (CEES), it remains a considerable economic power based on strong interdependences with many EU member states. Particularly, the energy sector of many new EU member states, like the Baltic states and Poland, depend on Russian energy supplies.
Due to this relatively new situation of immediate neighbourhood without any ideologic cutting line or cordon sanitaire, it is likely that new patterns concerning the Russia-EU relationship arise. Particularly, the Russian perspective on the EU might change qualitatively, with the latter expanding to territories that were just fifteen years ago under direct control of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR).
This paper argues that Russia faces a dilemma concerning its relations with the EU. On the one hand, the EU constitutes a competitor for post-Soviet space. On the other hand, Russia needs the EU as a partner, particularly in the economic field. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to examine Russia’s perception towards and responses to the EU’s enlargement policy. In the first part of the paper, base lines of Russian foreign policy since the dissolution of the USSR will be identified by applying theoretical approaches of international relations to these developments. The role the EU played in Russia’s foreign policy perception will be emdedded into the broader scope of Russia’s general approach to international affairs. After having analysed the general role of the EU in Russian foreign policy in the first part of the essay, Russia’s specific perception attributed to EU’s Eastern enlargement policy will be the focus of the third part of the paper. Identifying patterns of Russian responses to the dynamics of EU’s Eastern Enlargement and the implications of these responses for Russia-EU relations will be in the centre of the next part. Finally, a summary of the findings of the analysis will be covered in the last part of the paper.
2. Russia: Defining its Role in International Politics
Before examining Russia’s reaction to EU’s Eastern enlargement, it is appropriate to analyse general patterns of Russia’s foreign policy.. Particularly, Russia’s self-perception of its role in international politics after the end of the Cold War will be in the centre of the investigation. In order to understand Russia’s current policies with and perceptions of the EU, it is useful to integrate these specifically EU oriented attitudes into a broader framework of Russia’s general foreign policy objectives. Using this broader approach at the beginning of the essay will facilitate the classification of Russia’s reaction to EU enlargement at the end of the essay.
In the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR, Russia not only lost its status as a superpower, but also its role in several regions of the former USSR’s immediate sphere of influence was considerably weakened. On the one hand, the Russian Federation lost its direct influence over the CEES, most of them having constituted the Soviet system of satellites. On the other hand, formerly Soviet republics, and hence territory of the Soviet Union, became independent countries within the CIS. Russia found itself “pushed to the periphery of the European space”, having lost the ability to shape developments in these regions in a way the USSR was used to. Therefore, the young Russian Federation had to redefine its place within the international system and on the European continent in particular.
The overall strategic objective of Russian foreign policy after the dissolution of the USSR was to consolidate Russia’s role as a great power. Further, Lynch identifies another objective which was from the very beginning likely to contradict the consolidation of Russia’s great power status. Namely, any rupture with the G-7 states and a possible isolation of Russia had to be avoided. The G-7 states were seen as crucial concerning Russia’s external recognition as an influencial international actor and concerning its successful integration into the global economy, particularly in regard to Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Establishing Russia as an important global actor as well as avoiding serious problems with the G-7 can therefore be regarded as the main underpinnings of Russia’s behaviour in global affairs and they are inherent to all approaches in Russia’s post-Soviet foreign policy.
The following analysis will be structured in three different parts, each identifying a considerable shift or modification in Russia’s foreign policy since the collapse of the USSR. In order to avoid going beyond the scope of this essay, only the basic characteristics of Russia’s foreign policy changes will be displayed. In each part, the application of theories of international relations will support the characterisation of main features in Russia’s international behaviour. Also, the changing perspectives Russia had concerning the EU as a political actor will be outlined.
a. Liberal Internationalism: The Beginnings of post-Soviet Foreign Policy
The strategic path chosen in the early 1990s under foreign minister Kozyrev was to integrate Russia as rapidly as possible into the community of nations. The Western political and economic model was perceived as being the only realistic approach for the country to follow. Efforts of the Russian administration in foreign affairs were aimed at joining the group of G-7 states. This was seen as a way benefiting from both, the integration into the world market and the transfer of badly needed resources from Western economies, namely financial aid. As Baranovsky mentions, Russia regarded itself “politically and psychologically ready ro join the club of the international elite and expected to be recognised as a full-fledged member”.
The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation that was published in April 1993 emphasised the importance of Russia’s move towards the West. Further, it underlined the shared understandings of Russia and the West referring to the basic values of world civilisation and commonality of interests on the key issues of global development. In regard to the attributes associated with the West, the USA was the main system of reference and the relations of Russia and the USA were described in an overly optimistic manner.
The then Russian foreign minister Kozyrev pursued his policy in accordance with ideas of liberal internationalism, emphasising the congruency of Russian and Western values, Russia’s commitment to domestic democratic reform as well as to international rules and principles. This rhetoric is in the same line as the key features that can be found in the liberal international school of thought. The idea of a natural harmony of interests in international politics, the importance of democratic forms of government at the domestic level, and the adherence to international organisations and rules are integral parts of liberal internationalism.
In regard to the role the EU played during this time, Baranovsky points to the fact that the EU was listed in the Foreign Policy Concept only in fifth place, behind the CIS, arms control, the promotion of economic reform, and the USA. Since the interests of Russia and the West, with Western Europe as an integral part of it, were perceived as being identical, no problems and concerns were associated with the EU. In contrary, Russia perceived the opportunities of the EU’s economic power rather as an advantage than as a threat to its interests, expecting the inflow of needed resources and expertise to its domestic economy. In addition to that, Russia’s ambitions were globally oriented, namely integrating into the West as a whole, and the EU was considered a part too small to play a significant role.
Further, Russia focussed on bilateral relations with key European states (UK, France, Germany, Italy) instead of taking into account the EU’s supranational character. Although Kozyrev’s rhetoric was oriented towards a liberal approach in international relations, actual Russian thinking and behaviour were based on a different system of reference, namely on the state-centred principles of realism, in which supranational organisations were rather seen as being driven and dominated by sovereign states than by genuine post-national interests.
However, the main legal and political basis for Russia’s relations with the EU, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) was signed in 1994. It provides a framework for cooperation on economic and trade issues, political questions, and the institutionalisation of the relations, establishing biannual summits and parlamentary exchange. The PCA remains until today the main basis for relations between the EU and Russia.
The overall liberal-oriented perspective on Russia’s role in international politics changed significantly in the mid 1990s when Russian leaders were confronted with two issues that contradicted the notion of the concruency of Russian-Western interests. Firstly, the crisis in Bosnia displayed Russia’s lack of influence on both, the Bosnian Serbs and the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliance. Secondly, the prospect of NATO enlargement (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) that became an issue in late 1993 provoked resistance in Russia where NATO was perceived as constituting a security threat against Russia and a sign that the West was not interested in a close partnership with Russia. Obviously, Russian and Western interests were not identical as it was assumed on the part of Russia. Hence, the following years of Russian behaviour as an international actor can be seen as a shift from liberal internationalism to a realist based foreign policy.
b. Multipolarity as the Objective: Re-Orientation under Primakov
The crisis in Bosnia and the prospect of a possible NATO expansion eastwards, emphasised the need in Russia to reconsider its approach to promote its role in international affairs.
Although the Kozyrev era in Russian foreign policy cannot be considered as being free of hard geopolitical thinking, the shift towards a firm commitment to Russia’s role as a great power became obvious with the new foreign minister Primakov in January 1996.
Under Primakov, the objective of Russia’s role as a great power was a dominant feature in Russian foreign policy. According to him, the rise of the iron curtain was the beginning of a system of multipolarity and Russia constituted an equal pole among the great powers like the USA, China, Japan and the EU. Or as Kubicek put it, pragmatic nationalists have pushed away liberal westernisers in Russian foreign policy. Under Primakov, realist thinking not only was the underpinning of Russia’s understanding of international politics, but it manifested itself clearly in Russia’s aspiration to play a significant role in international affairs. The prerequisites for Russia’s status as a great power were taken as a given due to its nuclear capabilities, its permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and its lasting influence within the CIS. These attributes constituted Russian self-perception of being still a great power. Military capability and geopolitical positioning were seen as a currency strong enough to get one’s will in international politics.
Russia did not abandon its objective to become integrated and invlolved into the international community. Rather, it tried to achieve this goal by playing the card of geopolitics, hence power politics. For instance, Russia tried to enhance its role within the CIS, acting as a “Ordnungsmacht” and trying to avoid any Western interference in this region. The strategic goal was to consolidate its own role, attracting countries in this region to the Russian path, and eventually, through shifting alliances with the EU, India, China, and Japan, counterbalance the role of the USA as a hegemony power. For Primakov, the worst-case scenario was the return to the “led/leader model” in which Russia would be the “led-country” with a foreign policy “dependent on the benevolence of the West”, as had happened under Kozyrev in the early 1990s.
Realism, with an emphasis on power politics, balance of power, and power defined in terms of armed forces and geopolitical status, became openly the principle of Russian foreign policy thinking.
During this period, the EU was perceived as being either a possible option within an alliance against the USA or being considerably weakened since it was presumed that countries like the UK, France and a unified Germany would develop own aspirations in an emerging system of multipolarity. It can be said that the EU was still regarded as a civil power with a lot to offer in economic terms. Although the Eastern enlargement of the EU became an issue in 1993, Russia’s perception concerning this development did not take on a distinctive geopolitical character and hence it constituted no concern for the Russian administration. On the contrary, NATO and its enlargement were characterised “extremely dangerous” in the National Security Concept of 1997. This is due to the fact that NATO enlargement was from the very beginning seen as taking over former Soviet territory and not only excluding Russia but to confront it physically with military presence in regions adjacent to its homeland. Since Russia perceived the outside world through the realist lense, NATO enlargement was a more important issue than the expanding EU.
 Kempe, Iris; van Meurs, Wim; von Ow, Barbara, „Die EU-Beitrittsstaaten und ihre östlichen Nachbarn – The EU Accession States and Their Eastern Neighbours“, (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1999), p. 8.
 Baranovsky, V., Russia’s Attitudes Towards the EU: Political Aspects (Helsinki: Ulkopoliittinen instituutt, 2002), p. 16.
 See for example: Timmermann, H., „Rußlands Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik: Die europäische Richtung“, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 16-17/2003, p. 22.
 Lynch, A.C., “The Realism of Russia’s Foreign Policy”, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Jan. 2001), p. 8.
 Kolossov, V.; Turovsky, R., “Russian Geopolitics at the Fin-de-siecle” in The Changing Geopolitics of Eastern Europe, ed. A. H. Dawson & R. Fawn (London: Frank Cass, 2002), p. 148.
 Baranovsky (2002), p. 12.
 Since unfortunately no English version of the 1993 Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation could be found, it is referred to articles that analyse the main notions of this concept (see e.g. Kassianova 2001; Baranovsky 2002).
 Kassianova, A., “Russia: Still open to the West? Evolution of the State Identity in the Foreign Policy and Security Discourse”, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 53, No. 6 (Sep. 2001), p. 830.
 Kassianova (2002) mentions expressions like „partnership“, “cooperation“, and „assistance“, p. 830.
 Kozyrev, A., „Russia and Human Rights“, Slavic Review, Vol. 51, No. 2 (1992)
 See for example: Dunne, T., “Liberalism”, in The Globalisation of World Politics, ed. J. Baylis & S. Smith., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edn, 2004), pp.185-201.
 Baranovsky (2002), p. 17.
 Ibid., p. 13.
 Bordachev, T., “Russia’s European Problem: Eastward Enlargement of the EU and Moscow’s Policy, 1993-2000”, in Russia and the European Union” ed. O. Antonenko & K. Pinnick, (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 53.
 The PCA can be found at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/ceeca/pca/pca_russia.pdf (last access:15.12.05)
 Kubicek, P., “Russian Foreign Policy and the West”, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 114, No. 4, (Winter 1999-2000), p. 533.
 Ibid., p. 554.
 Towards the end of his term in 1995, Kozyrev embraced tendencies within the Russian army that were aimed at establishing Russia’s role as a global actor by using means of power politics. See Lynch (2001), p. 10.
 Kononenko, V., “From Yugoslavia to Iraq: Russia’s Foreign Policy and the Effects of Multipolarity”, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Working Paper 42 (2003), p. 6.
The paper can be found at: http://www.upi-fiia.fi/english/navigation/publications_frameset.htm (last access: 15.12.05)
 Kubicek (1999), p. 549.
 Lynch (2001), p. 24.
 Timmermann (2003), p. 22.
 Kononenko (2003), p. 25.
 Dunne, T., Schmidt, B., “Realism” in The Globalisation of World Politics, ed. J. Baylis & S. Smith., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edn, 2004), pp.162-183.
 Kononenko (2003), p. 14.
 Smith, M.; Timmins, G., “Russia, NATO and the EU in an Era of Enlargement: Vulnerability or Opportunity?” in The Changing Geopolitics of Eastern Europe, ed. A. H. Dawson & R. Fawn (London: Frank Cass, 2002), p. 82.
 The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation (1997) can be found at: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/doctrine/blueprint.html (last access: 15.12.05)