Russia’s hostile disapproval of the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative is surprising for many reasons, notes a new study from German Institute for International and Security Affairs by Susan Stewart. First of all, this is just a continuation of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), which Russia has never had a problem with in the past. Secondly, the economic crisis is going to prevent any dramatic integration over the short term. And lastly, Stewart notes, the EU proceeds in such policies in incremental and slow steps.
Another way of putting it is that Russia has nothing to worry about because the Eastern Partnership, like most major policy packages coming out of Brussels, isn’t going to accomplish anything serious.
The report points to Russian anger toward the slightly de-thawing relations between Belarus and Europe, as well as recommendations made on the modernization of Ukraine’s energy transport network. Stewart writes that Russia is so angry over the Eastern Partnership precisely because it was initiated right at a time when Moscow’s “economic and foreign policy weaknesses were all too apparent.” The author also worries that incorporating Russia on a project basis won’t fundamentally solve the main problems, but rather a change in Russian thinking on foreign policy is needed.