EU-Russia Summit in the Shadow of a Dispute over Ukraine

Written by | Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The most recent EU-Russia relations have been dominated by the dispute over Ukraine, which has now turned into a sort of battlefield in the country’s capital, Kiev. The Ukrainian violent riots seem to show no signs of abating and reconciliation as the political scene is characterized by conflicting views regarding the future of Ukraine with respect to the European integration process. President Vladimir Putin is to meet the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, in order to discuss the impasse in Kiev, trade frictions, and selected foreign policy issues such as Syria or Iran. The meeting takes place while the EU-Russia relations are deteriorating mostly due to significant differences in their views over Moscow’s influence in Eastern Europe and post-Soviet countries.
Speculations are rife that the summit has been shortened to less than three hours in addition to cancelling a dinner on Monday because of the unwillingness and unhappiness of both sides to deal with one another. Brussels rejects such speculations, though it admits that this summit is not like the others. Brussels also stressed that the true nature of the summit was to exchange opinions on the direction of the mutual partnership, as proven by the minimum number of aides that will attend the meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and her EU counterparts, Catherine Ashton, Jose Manuel Barroso, and Herman Van Rompuy.
Jose Manuel Barroso emphasized that the Brussels-Moscow links are undergoing a period of “recession” and challenges, especially after Ukraine unexpectedly said no to an association deal with the EU. Observers agree that Brussels is struggling to define its agenda in the region while Moscow is simultaneously trying to push for the Eurasian Customs Union project in order to create a platform which would newly “unite” former Soviet Republics. As a result, the EU’s neighbourhood agenda is not really making any progress, which in turn weakens these countries economically and fostering the semi-democratic regimes loyal to Russia.

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