The European Union seeks to have a peaceful relationship with the Russian Federation, through cooperation against terrorism, Europol, the war in Syria and cooperation on international crime. Both of these actors know that Russia is the biggest exporter to the EU, and that sanctions will mainly hurt the EU rather than Russia. However, the European Union is not still united in terms of its foreign policy, because its member states have different approaches to Russia. Countries which are in favour of having close ties with Russia include Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. States which are against close ties include the Baltic states, Poland and Sweden.
We see that, in response to the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, sanctions have been applied to Russia in the form of individual sanctions and economic sanctions. In addition, Russia was excluded from the G8, and the EU-Russia summit was cancelled, along with fostering cooperation with Russia through Erasmus/Educational exchange programs.
The present goals of the European Union towards Russia are: full implementation of the Minsk agreement, which means respecting international law, building an energy security union which will render the EU fully independent in terms of gas and oil production, strengthening civil society within Russia, and supporting democratic principles and human rights.
Russia – NATO relations
The Russian Federation and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are trying to avoid military confrontation and to settle ongoing conflicts. In addition, they are looking to strengthen their partnership in areas which are in need of cooperation, such as combating terrorism.
They are many issues between these two actors in terms of NATO and Russian military activities along the Eastern borders of Russia, including snap exercises, cyber-warfare and Russia’s military presence in Syria.
NATO has to deter future possible Russian threats and coercion, and reassure step by step all of its member states. It also has to provide more negotiation with Russia and support non-member states by security means, subsequent to debate with the Russian Federation.
The Russian strategy in the Euro-Atlantic Environment
Russia is perceived as the loser in the Cold War, and seeks to be respected as a global power and take part in discussions over security and global politics. This means being an effective regional player, as she has demonstrated in Syria. In addition, they are trying to limit the influence of the US in Europe. In economic terms, Russia is trying to become the main provider of oil and gas to Europe. In security means, she is seeking to bring about regional stability on her own terms; to a have stable buffer zone along its borders, and to prevent the US from having any influence on post-Soviet satellite states. Furthermore, Russia is trying to prevent NATO enlargement and the further broadening of missile defence programmes in Europe, and to create a multipolar international system.
Russia’s actions are clear. They are focusing on public diplomacy and using soft power towards Europe and the United States. Secondly, they are building pipelines for oil to Europe (Nord Stream II) and have energy deals with China and the Eurasian economic union. In addition, they are building new economic institutions such as development banks in BRICS and Asian investment bank infrastructures.
In recent months, Russia has taken security measures such as the destabilisation of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, military activity in Syria to support the al-Assad regime, military cooperation with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent states) countries, military involvement in countries such as Georgia and Moldova, and military exercises on Russian-Western borders.
We can conclude our view of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation in terms of what she has succeeded in becoming: a regional hegemony and a necessary partner for solving conflicts. However, at the same time, Russia has suffered losses in terms of economic strength, global image and losing its independence.
-> Collective work of whole participants at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, „EU, NATO, US Foreign Policy toward Russian Federation foreign policy“ (presentation/lecture during the certificate at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russian Federation)