EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy visit to Russia, February 2021

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Publication Date 2021
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Information Guide concerning the visit of the European Union's High-Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell to Russia on 4-6 February 2021 and its aftermath.

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The visit took place in a context of tense relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia, framed by a number of unresolved geopolitical matters, regional instability and the existence of a range of sanctions. Russia's internal political situation was one of increasing protests following the return of main opposition leader Alexei Navalny to the country - after recovering from a poisoning attempt - and his imprisonment. The timing of this visit also coincided with a decision by Russian authorities to expel a number of European diplomats.

Mr Borrell's visit was an attempt at easing tension and launching a pathway for renewed engagement between the two sides. The EU's representative held wide-ranging discussions with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and also met with representatives of Russian civil society organisations, including NGOs facing restrictions on their work as a result of Russian legislation.

Media outlets and analysts highlighted the lack of success of this visit, not least due to Mr Borrell's incapacity to react to harsh words directed at the European Union by Mr Lavrov during a joint press conference. Upon his return, Mr Borrell was summoned for a debate at the European Parliament on the outcome of his visit to Russia. Mr Lavrov later made public remarks on the demise of the relations between Russia and the EU.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
CEPS: In Brief, 04/02/2021: EU-Russia relations and Europe’s global profile
Interfax, 04/02/2021: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell: Putting aside negative rhetoric would be good starting point for frank EU-Russia dialogue
The Moscow Times, 08/02/2021: What Happened During Tense EU-Russia Talks?
Politico, 10/02/2021: Bested by Lavrov, Borrell faces fury in Brussels
Euro|topics, February 2021: Borrell visit: no holds barred for Moscow?
ECFR: Podcast, 12/02/2021: Stranger in Moscow: Borrell’s unwelcome visit
Politico: Comment, 13/02/2021: EU foreign policy RIP
The Economist, 13/02/2021: The European Union must face up to the real Russia
Carnegie Russian Center: Commentary, 18/02/2021: Russia and Europe: the Current Impasse and the Way Out
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 23/02/2021: Why the Europeans Don’t Have a Russia Policy
Atlantic Council: Blog, 24/02/2021: Josep Borrell outlines the EU’s priorities in a multipolar world

TASS, 30/01/2021: Russia preparing for talks on relations with EU during Borrell’s visit - senior diplomat
EurActiv, 05/02/2021: Russia receives Borrell with ‘provocative choreography’
EUObserver, 05/02/2021: Russia humiliates Borrell in Moscow
BBC News, 05/02/2021: Russia Navalny trial a 'low point' in EU-Russia relations, says Borrell
Deutsche Welle, 05/02/2021: EU-Russia ties at 'low point' over Navalny, Borrell says
ERR News, 06/02/2021: MEP: Borrell's Moscow visit was 'master class in pandering'
RFE/RL, 07/02/2021: EU's Borrell Says Relations With Russia 'At A Crossroads'
TASS, 07/02/2021: Moscow surprised with Borrell’s evaluation of his visit to Russia
Euronews, 07/02/2021: Russia does not want constructive dialogue with Europe, says Borrell after Moscow visit
Helsinki Times, 08/02/2021: EU foreign ministers may discuss new anti-Russian sanctions on February 22, says Borrell
Politico, 09/02/2021: Borrell defends controversial Russia trip, threatens sanctions
Reuters, 09/02/2021: 'Merciless' Russia may face new sanctions, EU says
RTÉ News, 09/02/2021: Borrell will propose EU leaders impose Russia sanctions
Associated Press, 09/02/2021: Top EU diplomat to propose new sanctions against Russia
EUObserver, 10/02/2021: Borrell to propose sanctions after Russia 'fiasco'
The Guardian, 11/02/2021: EU chief's Moscow humiliation is sign of bloc disunity on Russia, say experts
Euronews, 12/02/2021: Russia 'ready' for a break in relations with the EU, says Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
BBC News, 13/02/2021: Russia warns EU it could cut ties over sanctions
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 15/02/2021: Lavrov and Russia Outplay the European Union Yet Again
Reuters, 15/02/2021: Lavrov blames EU for demise of its Russia ties
EUObserver, 16/02/2021: EU relations are a 'carcass', Russia says
EurActiv, 18/02/2021: Borrell’s Moscow trip is a learning experience, not the death of EU foreign policy

Renew Europe Group: News, 03/02/2021: Cioloş: “HR/VP Josep Borrell should make sure he has the leverage to free Navalny, and if not, the visit to Moscow should be postponed.”
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Moscow, February 5, 2021
Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Moscow, February 5, 2021
EU EEAS: Russia: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the joint press conference with Foreign Minister Lavrov (5 February 2021)
EU EEAS: Press Release, 06/02/2021: Russia: High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell concludes visit to Russia
EU EEAS: Blog, 07/02/2021: My visit to Moscow and the future of EU-Russia relations
EU EEAS: Russia: Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP debate on his visit to Moscow (9 February 2021)
European Parliament: Press Release, 09/02/2021: MEPs criticise visit of EU foreign policy chief to Moscow

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