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Regular version of the site

Article

Russia and the European Union: Crisis and Prospects

Survival. 2019. No. 61. P. 139-164.

In the drama of 2014 – political crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, armed conflict in eastern Ukraine – Russia–EU relations turned almost overnight into confrontation and near conflict. As Yury Borko has observed, five basic factors define that confrontation today: 1) mutual diplomatic and economic sanctions and counter-sanctions; 2) a ‘freeze’ in official relations and mechanisms for cooperation under existing treaties and agreements, as well as in the working relationship between the two sides; 3) a ‘freeze’ in both official and unofficial talks on preparing a new foundational Russia–EU agreement to replace the outdated Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1994 that expired in 2007, and that both parties have renewed annually since; 4) chronic military tensions and confrontational rhetoric – including accusations that, among other things, Russia supports extremist, right-wing, populist and anti-European forces within the EU, and that its intelligence agencies attempted to assassinate Sergei Skripal in the UK – accompanied by actions such as military exercises and flyovers by military aircraft; and 5) the resultant, near-complete breakdown in mutual trust. Russia–EU relations are now at their lowest point in history, having been in deep crisis for five years.