Book Review: Irina Busygina, Russia-EU Relations and the Common Neighbourhood: Coercion vs. Authority, London and New York: Routledge, 2018
“Russia-EU Relations and the Common Neighbourhood: Coercion vs. Authority” by Irina Busygina is an exceptional study despite the fact that the author herself claims it to be “yet another book” on the relations between Russia and the European Union (EU). Not only is it acute and timely, for it thoroughly depicts how the relationship between the two entities has rapidly slipped into a severe conflict since March 2014. It also traces how this long-lasting rivalry has been steadily unwrapping in the countries belonging to the Common Neighbourhood (CN), with a rather unconventional case study of Turkey included into the analysis alongside with the more expected cases of Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
The exceptionality of the book however has less to do with what is being studied (in this sense, it is “yet another book”, indeed), it is much more about how the EU-Russia relations are approached theoretically. Busygina herself states that this book is, first and foremost, about power and power types present in the international arena and between different states and non-state actors, while the relations between the EU and its Eastern neighbour in the CN serve as a unique case to test the proposed framework. In fact, studying the power types practiced by Brussels and Moscow with regard to each other and the countries lying in between, allows the author to actually look beyond the instances of these power relations and to grasp their roots in the domestic political arrangements of the Russian state and the EU’s institutional environment.