Russian Geopolitical Thinking and the EU Eastern Partners

13. June 2018

The geopolitical thinking and activities have been prevalent in Russian foreign policy discussions. Russian leaders have stressed the need to hold the former USSR republics under Russian influence. This has particularly influenced the political situation of European Union’s Eastern partnership countries. Russia under President Vladimir Putin has developed a dual-track approach to challenge the keeping of Russia’s neighbors under its influence. First track has been proposals to neighbors to join integration projects led by Russia, like Eurasian Economic Union, with promises to grant economic access to Russian markets. The other track has been punitive and directed against these neighbors, who have chosen democratic and Western orientation. In this case Russia is using its military might for dismembering those states or supporting separatist regimes in those states. Putin’s original proposal was that Russia and its partners should set an ambitious goal of reaching a higher level of integration – the Eurasian Union. However, the Russia’s partners who joined Eurasian Economic Union saw it as an economic cooperation format. The main element missing was Ukrainian participation. As a result Russia decided for retaining its influence in Ukraine to annex Crimea and create separatist regimes in Eastern Ukraine. Putin’s geopolitical agenda is supported in Russia by vibrant tradition of geopolitical thinking in the form of Eurasianism (e.g. Aleksandr Dugin).

The report by ECEAP Senior Research Fellow Mr Aap Neljas can be found here: Russian Geopolitical Thinking.