The region of the common neighbourhood between the EU and Russia (post-Soviet states participating in the Eastern Partnership policy of the EU) is contested on various levels: besides power politics, the two actors utilize various hard and soft power instruments, they have also intensified identity discourses which is ultimately yet another level of contestation in the region. At the same time, foreign policy analysis have not addressed sufficiently identity policy as a foreign policy strategy. The paper suggests bridging this gap by studying how do the European Union and Russia use identity as a foreign policy instrument on the two cases of Ukraine and Belarus. The paper therefore consists of three parts. Firstly, it traces and disentangles the elements of identity discourse of the EU and Russia in Ukraine and Belarus. Secondly, it explores how these discourses are being perceived on the ground and whether they have evolved over the 25 years of independence. Finally, the focus comes back to foreign policy strategies of the EU and Russia to conclude to what extent their identity policies were effective and what factors contributed to their success or failure.
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