Russia’s Recent Foreign Policy toward its Neighbours in EU Eastern Neighbourhood

17. May 2021


The analysis addresses Russia’s foreign policy and Russia’s reaction to external and internal crises in its neighbourhood, what it shares with the EU.

The analysis examines the thesis presented by mainly Russian scholars, that during the last years Russia has adopted more cautious approach to interference of internal affairs of

its neighbours that coincides with a re-evaluation of its geopolitical priorities and a more calculated approach based on an awareness of its limitations.

The analysis finds that although there are some signs that some adaptation to less assertive stance to some crises has taken place, these developments have not changed

the fundamental goals of Russian foreign policy. Russia has shown continuing readiness to interfere, both with economic and military instruments into internal affairs of neighbouring

states. However, analysis finds that there could be seen emerging tactical differing policy attitude from Russia towards neighbours.

  1. Firstly, Russian policy toward those countries who have chosen pro-Western

democratic and pro-EU/pro-Western direction of development and are supported by EU and USA (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova). In the first case Russia continues to interfere aggressively in their internal affairs by maintaining “frozen” and “hot” conflicts in their territories and to pursue active hybrid attacks to destabilise pro-western and pro-democratic governments.

  1. Secondly, toward those neighbours, which do not have realistic geopolitical alternative to Russian support and therefore continue to follow pro-Russian foreign

policy or have more autocratic form of government (Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia). In their case Russia has adopted more restrained attitude and has not got directly

involved in some internal or interstate conflicts in those countries. The analysis also presents overview of the theoretical views of Russian and international

scholars related to the question of modern Russian statehood and how it influences Russian foreign policy toward its neighbours. The analysis of Russian foreign policy

documents and official statements is also presented. Also, the Russian policy toward EU Eastern Partnership policy as well as Russian foreign policy toward Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia,

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova in 2020–2021 is studied.

The analysis concludes that the EU and USA continuing efforts are necessary to support countries in the EU Eastern Neighbourhood, especially those with pro-Western orientation, by maintaining and if necessary, strengthening sanctions against Russia and helping those countries to fight hybrid threats as long as Russia’s behaviour does not change.

Please read the full analysis by ECEAP Senior Research Fellow Aap Neljas here: Russias Recent Foreign Policy Toward its Neighbours in EU Eastern Neighbourhood by Aap Neljas