ECFR Views from the Capitals. What next for EU Russia policy?

Publication Date October 2016
Content Type

The discussion on Russia at the European Council on 20-21 October 2016 came at a new low in relations between Russia and the West. After the collapse of the ceasefire in Syria in October 2016, Russia intensified its bombing campaign against civilian areas in Aleppo, prompting Western leaders to accuse Moscow of war crimes. President Putin cancelled a visit to Paris after President Hollande said that Syria would be the only topic up for discussion. This came days after Russia vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution on Aleppo drafted by France. Russia has also deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad in an apparent show of strength in the Baltic Sea region. Meanwhile, more emails belonging to Clinton aides have been leaked in an apparent attempt by Russia to influence the US elections in Trump’s favour. And all of this in October 2016.

Against this backdrop, European leaders had a strategic discussion on relations with Russia.

In this feature there are a series of individual articles from a number of European capitals:

+ View from Berlin: Keeping Europe's cool, by Josef Janning. Merkel does not want an escalation of Russia-bashing out of fear, as it would only reward the Kremlin’s scaremongering.

+ View from Paris: The Syrian prism, by Manuel Lafont Rapnouil. 'Selective engagement' echoes perfectly France's preferred approach to Russia.

+ View from Rome: Reflection before renewal, by Silvia Francescon. Italy sees the European Council as a forum for policy and political discussion, where measures should be debated instead of simply adopted.

+ View from Madrid: The many-faced Janus, by Francisco de Borja Lasheras. Spain is inclined towards conditional accommodation with Russia but tends to refrain from open overtures towards Moscow.

+ View from London: Pragmatic continuity, by Joanna Hosa. Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria will frustrate any attempts at a shift in UK policy on Russia.

+ View from Sofia: In the shadow of elections, by Denica Yotova. Bulgaria's Russia policy could go in any direction after 6 November.

+ View from Stockholm: Not the time for frailty, by Fredrik Wesslau. Given Russia’s multiple moves to up the ante in recent weeks, Stockholm sees no reason for the EU to change direction.

+ View from The Hague: An eternal balancing act by Caroline de Gruyter. Prime Minister Rutte, needing as much EU support as he can, will be firm on the status quo and extremely careful with everything else.

+ View from Budapest: The status quo might just do, by Zsuzsanna Vegh. Hungary will certainly oppose additional sanctions, but it is unlikely to veto a prolongation.

+ View from Athens: Towing the line, by George Tzogopoulos. The new reality of Greek acquiescence to EU policy hides deep ideological differences.

Source Link
Related Links
ESO: Background information: European Council, Brussels, 20-21 October 2016
ESO: Background information: Twin crises in Syria and Ukraine prove the West cannot restrain Russia
ESO: Background information: There are few political incentives for Russia and the EU to normalise their relations
EurActiv, 17.10.16: UK, France and Germany seek EU condemnation of Russia over Syria
Euro|Topics: Debates, October 2016: What tack should the EU take vis-à-vis Moscow?

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