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US-Russia relations: Reaching the point of no return?

03-10-2018

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more ...

In August 2018, Russia's embassy in Washington claimed that US-Russia relations were moving towards irreversible breakdown. Long-standing bilateral tensions have been aggravated in recent years by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, sanctions, and accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. Initially, Donald Trump's electoral victory raised hopes in Russia that tensions could ease. But while Trump often appears to share Russian wishes to move from confrontation to a more transactional relationship, a rift has opened up between him and the rest of the US political establishment, which insists that the differences between the two countries are too fundamental to be easily set aside. Growing hostility towards Russia has led to harsher rhetoric and increasingly draconian sanctions. Alongside these more recent developments, US-Russia relations have been complicated for many years by fundamental foreign policy differences. The US sees itself as a global leader and champion of liberal values. For its part, Russia resents what it perceives as US hegemony and unwarranted interference in other countries' internal affairs. Russia is far from being a military equal to the US. Nevertheless, Moscow's nuclear arsenal makes it a potentially formidable adversary. A series of arms-control agreements aims to contain the threat of an arms race or even conflict between the two sides. However, deteriorating relations are making such arrangements look increasingly precarious. Compared to political and security issues, economic ties play only a minor role in US-Russia relations. Bilateral trade and investment have suffered from tensions and are likely to remain limited, not least due to sanctions.

Russia [What Think Tanks are thinking]

21-09-2018

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of ...

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of trying to sabotage Western liberal democracy and others saying that he wants to regain the position of global player that the Soviet Union once occupied. This note offers links to commentaries and studies by major international think tanks, which discuss Russia's policies and how to respond to them. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in March 2018. Some more papers on US-Russian relations are available in another edition from the series published in August 2018.

European Deterrence Initiative: the transatlantic security guarantee

09-07-2018

The illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 marked a crucial moment for European, transatlantic and international security. Acting like a wake-up call, this event redefined strategic and security considerations in individual EU Member States, in the United States and in international organisations such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Russia's increasingly assertive military posture is unsettling for its European neighbours. Four years ago ...

The illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 marked a crucial moment for European, transatlantic and international security. Acting like a wake-up call, this event redefined strategic and security considerations in individual EU Member States, in the United States and in international organisations such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Russia's increasingly assertive military posture is unsettling for its European neighbours. Four years ago, in June 2014, US President Obama announced what was to become a key security guarantee from America to Europe. The European Reassurance Initiative, as it was called during the first half of its existence, is a military programme supporting the activities of the US military and its allies in Europe. In 2017, it was renamed the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to reflect the shift in the international security environment characterised by a prioritisation of deterrence. Activities under the EDI include training of forces, multinational military exercises and development of military equipment and capabilities. They all take place under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR) whose core mission is to enhance deterrence. Despite recent turmoil in transatlantic relations, the budget for building up defences in central and eastern Europe through the EDI has seen major increases; even under the Trump administration. The EDI has deepened security and defence cooperation between the US and the main beneficiaries of OAR, namely Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The US European Command, which coordinates all EDI and OAR activities, is working to forge enhanced interoperability between different countries' military forces through joint training, staff exchanges and exercises. The Command's leadership also recognises the cyber domain as a pressing area where integration is needed, although the EDI budget for 2019 makes no mention of it. The recent proliferation of EU defence initiatives and the revamp of EU-NATO relations should also contribute to EDI's core mission: to establish a strong deterrence posture able to meet today's security challenges.

A UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine?

08-03-2018

As the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fifth year, the debate on the possibility of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission has resurfaced, with a new report and a combination of developments on the international stage creating new momentum. Some see such a mission as a potential opportunity to contribute to unfreezing the Minsk II peace deal, paving the way for local elections. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the conflict zone is deteriorating.

As the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fifth year, the debate on the possibility of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission has resurfaced, with a new report and a combination of developments on the international stage creating new momentum. Some see such a mission as a potential opportunity to contribute to unfreezing the Minsk II peace deal, paving the way for local elections. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the conflict zone is deteriorating.

Human rights in Ukraine and the EU response, including relevant activities of the European Parliament

07-02-2018

The present study provides an overview of how the European Union and the European Parliament (EP) contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in Ukraine. The analysis adopts an institutional approach, separately addressing the role of the various EP bodies involved, such as the plenary itself and the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). The actions of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC), a parliamentary body created by the Association Agreement, as well as those ...

The present study provides an overview of how the European Union and the European Parliament (EP) contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in Ukraine. The analysis adopts an institutional approach, separately addressing the role of the various EP bodies involved, such as the plenary itself and the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). The actions of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee (PAC), a parliamentary body created by the Association Agreement, as well as those of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the PAC are included in this analysis. The territories controlled by the Ukrainian government and those that are temporarily occupied, namely Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine, are addressed separately in the study. In terms of thematic focus, the EP’s activities aimed at human rights promotion have been dominated by the issue of the Crimean Tatars, the Ukrainian political prisoners illegally held in Russia, and the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine. The most significant conclusion is that the more entrenched the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity becomes, the wider the spectrum of human rights issues extends, in protection of which the EP is able to step to the fore and take action. A summary of the contents of relevant EP actions can be found in the Annex to the study, together with a graphical visualisation of key data.

Údar seachtarach

András RÁCZ, Narine GHAZARYAN, Sergiy GERASYMCHUK.

Sanctions over Ukraine: Impact on Russia

17-01-2018

In early 2014, Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea and allegedly fomenting separatist uprisings in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. The European Union, the United States and several other Western countries responded with diplomatic measures in March 2014, followed by asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individuals and entities. In July 2014, sanctions targeting the Russian energy, defence and financial sectors were adopted. These sanctions have not swayed Russian public ...

In early 2014, Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea and allegedly fomenting separatist uprisings in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas. The European Union, the United States and several other Western countries responded with diplomatic measures in March 2014, followed by asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individuals and entities. In July 2014, sanctions targeting the Russian energy, defence and financial sectors were adopted. These sanctions have not swayed Russian public opinion, which continues to staunchly back the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine. Despite Western efforts to isolate Russia, the country is playing an increasingly prominent role on the global stage. On the other hand, sectoral sanctions have proved painful, aggravating an economic downturn triggered by falling oil prices, from which the country has only just begun to recover. Sanctions have affected the Russian economy in various ways. The main short-term impact comes from restrictions on Western lending and investment in Russia. Oil and gas production remains unaffected for the time being, but in the long term energy exports are likely to suffer. Meanwhile, Russian counter-sanctions are benefiting the country's agricultural sector, but consumers are losing out in terms of choice and price. Quantitative estimates of the impact are difficult, but most observers agree that sanctions are costing Russia billions of euros a year and holding back a return to higher rates of economic growth. This is an updated edition of a briefing from March 2016, PE 579.084.

The EU's Eastern Partnership [What Think Tanks are thinking]

24-11-2017

The European Union and its Eastern Partnership neighbours hold their fifth summit on 24 November 2017, to take stock of the eight-year-old cooperation programme and map ways to strengthen political and economic ties. The Eastern Partnership is a regional programme of the European Neighbourhood Policy, aimed at promoting closer cooperation between the European Union, its Member States, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It has achieved progress, such as association agreements ...

The European Union and its Eastern Partnership neighbours hold their fifth summit on 24 November 2017, to take stock of the eight-year-old cooperation programme and map ways to strengthen political and economic ties. The Eastern Partnership is a regional programme of the European Neighbourhood Policy, aimed at promoting closer cooperation between the European Union, its Member States, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It has achieved progress, such as association agreements and visa-free regimes with Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, albeit limited by the conflicts and political instability in the region. The programme signals the EU’s willingness to reinforce ties with the region, offering incentives to governments and civil society to push ahead with democratic and economic reforms. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports by major international think tanks on the Eastern Partnership and the countries it embraces. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking' published in November 2016.

Russian ties with China in the face of Western sanctions

16-10-2017

Since the West imposed sanctions on Russia, in response to its annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine in 2014, the country has accelerated its 'turn to the East' and notably to like-minded China, in an attempt to offset its loss of access to Western financial markets and advanced technology. Three years on, the economic outcomes appear to have fallen largely short of Russia's high expectations. The most visible signs of the incremental Sino-Russian economic rapprochement have ...

Since the West imposed sanctions on Russia, in response to its annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of eastern Ukraine in 2014, the country has accelerated its 'turn to the East' and notably to like-minded China, in an attempt to offset its loss of access to Western financial markets and advanced technology. Three years on, the economic outcomes appear to have fallen largely short of Russia's high expectations. The most visible signs of the incremental Sino-Russian economic rapprochement have been long-term and large-scale deals orchestrated by the two countries' top leaderships in a number of state-controlled strategic sectors. Politically, these highly publicised agreements were meant to signal to the West that Russia under sanctions had ample other options. Economically, the jury is still out on whether they will be beneficial for Russia in the long run, since it has had to make major concessions to China. The asymmetry of their relationship has thus become further entrenched, although appearances may suggest otherwise. Moreover, the state-led deals have so far failed to generate major spill-over effects to other less state-dominated sectors. China and Russia pursue two competing concepts of regional integration for Eurasia – the China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union – which experts consider incompatible. It remains to be seen what form, if any, their envisaged coordination will take, and how this will reshape the economic order in the EU's neighbourhood. Closer Sino-Russian strategic alignment on global governance issues – despite its limits – is likely to diminish the space for governance concepts developed by Western liberal democracies and the core values associated with them.

Ukraine and the EU [What Think Tanks are thinking]

25-07-2017

Relations between the European Union and Ukraine have been improving since the Maidan protests ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, leading to the election of pro-Western Petro Poroshenko as head of state. At their meeting on 12-13 July, EU and Ukrainian leaders welcomed the completion of the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the recent entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens. However, Ukraine's security situation remains precarious following Russia's ...

Relations between the European Union and Ukraine have been improving since the Maidan protests ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, leading to the election of pro-Western Petro Poroshenko as head of state. At their meeting on 12-13 July, EU and Ukrainian leaders welcomed the completion of the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the recent entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens. However, Ukraine's security situation remains precarious following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, in which Russia's role is unclear. The EU is also urging Ukraine to fight corruption with more determination. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by major international think tanks on the situation in Ukraine and its relations with the EU.

EU-Russia people-to-people contacts

08-12-2016

With EU-Russia relations at a post-Cold War low, people-to-people contacts are an important means of overcoming mutual hostility. Individuals and organisations from the EU are continuing to cooperate with Russian counterparts, despite difficulties. On the other hand, there has been a significant downturn in personal travel, and public opinion mirrors frosty diplomatic relations.

With EU-Russia relations at a post-Cold War low, people-to-people contacts are an important means of overcoming mutual hostility. Individuals and organisations from the EU are continuing to cooperate with Russian counterparts, despite difficulties. On the other hand, there has been a significant downturn in personal travel, and public opinion mirrors frosty diplomatic relations.

Imeachtaí atá ar na bacáin

01-12-2020
FISC Public Hearing on 1st December 2020
Éisteacht -
FISC
01-12-2020
Inter-parliamentary Committee meeting on the Evaluation of Eurojust Activities
Imeacht eile -
LIBE
02-12-2020
Public Hearing on AI and Health
Éisteacht -
AIDA

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