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Russia's Relations with EU Member States: Divide and Rule or Making the Most out of the Relations?

Tatiana Romanova, Elena Pavlova

Russia is frequently reproached for the fact that it constructs relations with individual member-states of the EU as oppose to treating the Union as a block. The most frequent assumption is that Russia attempts to drive a wedge in the EU's common foreign policy. While this is true to some extent, we argue that this is not the only explanation for Russia's inclination to prefer contacts with member states over forging relations with the EU as a block. We also identify the variety of agendas that Russia pursues with various countries of the European Union; the similarities and divergencies among them. We explore this topic by analyzing a) EU-Russian Partnership for Modernization vs. Partnerships for Modernization between Russia and individual member-states; b) EU-Russian energy dialogue vs. bilateral energy contacts. We rely on discourse analysis of both official texts and interviews of Russian officials. The paper is also meant to respond to some ideas developed in the context of the EU-Russia CRN research project, examining the variety of member states' agenda in their relations with Russia at the EU's and national levels.

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