The EU-Russia Partnership Today
The morning after New Year’s Eve, 1 January 2006 was a rude awakening for Europe. Russia’s sudden fourfold price hike for gas deliveries to Ukraine wreaked havoc not just there, but also on end users throughout the EU area. About one fourth of EU oil and gas supplies stems from Russia, thus energy has come to dominate EU-Russia affairs and also set the stage for this summer’s G8 summit hosted by Russia. The draft directives of the European Commission for the upcoming negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement replacing the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) stress the Commission’s wish ‘to consolidate the EU-Russia energy relationship based on reciprocity’ as a key EU concern for updating the PCA (Europa Rapid Press Release 03-07-2006). Similarly, the current Finnish EU Presidency seeks cooperation with the next, that is German EU Presidency in making Russia and energy a priority.
There is more to EU-Russia affairs than energy. Ever since the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sought to radically reform the Soviet economic system, the EU (the EEC then) has followed events with a keen interest and tried to develop constructive policies in response to Russia’s transition. From 1991 to 2003 some 2.6 billion euros were allocated to Russia under TACIS, the aid programme for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS; Flenley 2005, 443). Between 1995 and 2003 EU-Russia trade more than doubled, and nowadays the EU accounts for over half of Russia’s foreign trade (‘Bilateral Trade Relations’ 2004). Russia’s joining of the Bologna process in 2003 will make higher education systems throughout Europe, Siberia and the Russian Far East compatible. The PCA of 1994 (in force from 1997) is remarkable due to the addition of four so-called common spaces: on economics; on freedom, security and justice; on cooperation concerning external security; and on research, education and culture. The concept stems from the early 2000s and has gained momentum since the EU eastward enlargement of 2004. The May 2005 EU-Russia summit added ‘road maps’ for the common spaces (‘EU-Russia Summit’ 2005; Romanova and Zaslavskaya 2004). The common spaces mark a watershed as they open for integration dynamics from below between the EU Single Market and Russia’s domestic market – Russia’s real membership option (cf. Kux 2003)
Within ‘high politics’, Russia was the target of a pioneering Common Strategy, the new security policy instrument within the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) launched by the Amsterdam Treaty (Common Strategy 1999). This later lead to some EU-Russia security cooperation such as counter-terrorist measures as provided for in the road map for the external security common space. Interestingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Brussels’ economic presence in Northern Caucasus intended to stabilize this powder keg which is legally a part of the Russian Federation and ‘high politics’ for him
. The rhetoric of the 1999 Common Strategy on Russia and the European Security Strategy of 12 December 2003 makes it clear that Brussels considers Russia ‘a major factor in our security and prosperity’ (European Security Strategy 2003). Moscow reciprocated in 2000 by launching a Medium-term Strategy for its EU relations (2000 to 2010) reflecting its equally keen interest in developing a close partnership with Brussels. Its target is to reinforce ‘positions of both Russia and the European Union within the frames of the global community of the 21st century’ as well as utilizing ‘the economic potential and management experience of the EU with a view to promoting the development of a social market economy’ (quoted from Borko 2001, 130-131). Indeed, the principal common feature of the EU Common Strategy and Russia’s Medium-term EU strategy was the EU-Russia strategic partnership, a term which both parties continue to use (ibid. 129; cf. Solana 2005; Nikitin 2006). Putin recently confirmed the priority Moscow attaches to Brussels by singling this partner out as Russia’s biggest outside the CIS. He further specified:
Our permanent dialogue with the EU creates fertile ground for mutually beneficial economic links and for expanding scientific, humanitarian, and other kinds of exchange. Our joint implementation of the concept of ‘common spaces’ is an important element in pan-European developments. (Putin 2006).
In many respects EU-Russia relations thus qualify as a privileged partnership only slightly modified since 2003 when Brussels opened itself towards the non-Russian post-Soviet space through its new European Neighbourhood Policy (Vahl 2006).
However, these appearances are deceptive. Western and Russian analysts are critical about the sincerity of EU-Russia relations citing shortcomings on both sides (cf. Sutela, 2005; Oldberg, 2004; Flenley, 2005; Vahl, 2006 vs. Romanova and Zaslavskaya 2004; Lynch 2005; Karaganov 2005; Nikitin 2006). Western economists complain about the infantile disorders of Russian EU diplomacy, e.g. the impatience and underutilization of the instruments invented by the EU leading to summit tyranny (Sutela 2005, 23). Others blame Brussels citing its lack of cohesion, vision and sheer knowledge about Russia. Even before the 2004 EU enlargement into the formerly Communist half of Europe, EU-Russia relations became more and more a derivative of this process. This relative downgrading of the partnership with Moscow may be what inspires Russian publicists to lambaste EU ‘hypocrisy’. Seen in this perspective, the gas row of 2006 was merely detonating tension accumulated over the years. However, some analysts insist that it is only now, following Putin’s coming into power that it is possible to realize the potentials of the EU-Russia partnership. Russia under its former President Boris Yeltsin was simply too chaotic to count upon (Flenley 2005; Lynch 2005, 22). Some draw parallels between today’s somewhat bland EU-Russia relationship and the very limited, yet fairly pragmatic Soviet-era Brussels-Moscow relationship that deliberately avoided areas of clashing interests (Oldberg 2004, 76)
. On balance, NATO-Russia cooperation runs more smoothly nowadays than EU-Russia cooperation! (Flenley 2005, 451).
So much for the introduction to EU-Russia affairs. I shall now proceed in a systematical manner to analyze the current dynamics within the EU-Russia partnership. The basic research question is this: what is at stake in this relationship for both of the parties concerned? In other words, what are the issues, interests and options as seen by the two parties themselves and then seen from a bird’s eye view? First, I present the logic behind Brussels’ Russia policy, then follows the anti-thesis, the logic behind Moscow’s EU policy, and, lastly, a synthesis focusing on two key EU-Russia power asymmetries drawing upon insights from complex interdependence theory. Thus, I do not intend to cover everything concerning EU-Russia affairs, only some significant dimensions, where I shall also add some policy recommendations. My argument is that Brussels and Moscow speak past one another, but have compelling structural reasons for developing an intimate relationship. Moreover, upon closer examination Moscow appears more vulnerable vis-a-vis Brussels than vice versa despite the assertiveness of Putin’s Russia in these years of booming oil revenues, on the one hand, and the limbo inside the EU following the Constitution Treaty fiasco, on the other hand.
The post-modern approach of Brussels towards Moscow: cooperative security
Following Robert Cooper (2003) one must distinguish between pre-modern, modern, and post-modern actors in world politics. These three kinds of actors have starkly different outlooks and resources to draw upon and thereby cause vastly different security dynamics around themselves. Pre-modern actors are mainly Third World states and need no further comment here. Modern actors are capable of pursuing their national interests - states whose main resources of power are military and other kinds of tangible material power (e.g. natural resources). Modern actors jealously guard their sovereignty and distrust humanitarian interventions into conflicts, uninhibited grass-root activity across borders and other features of transnationalism
 and globalization perceiving all this as undermining their sovereignty. Cases in point are the BRIC powers - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - but not without reason Cooper (2003) also places the US in the modern category (cf. Waltz 1979 on neo-realism).
Conversely, post-modern actors have transferred much sovereignty to the supra-national level, thus all EU members are by definition post-modern and the EU itself the post-modern actor par excellence. Due to the combined integration, prosperity and further consolidation of democracy generated by the EU, this global actor disposes of enormous ‘soft power’ resources – non-military, often intangible, but significant levers of power. Hence, even neo-realists admit that in Europe Brussels replaces the US as unipole and source of attraction (Mouritzen 1993; cf. Leonard 2005). Post-modern actors pursue a broad security agenda including normative, non-state concerns such as human rights which, arguably, just serve as long-term policies of creating a stable, transparent international environment. Whereas modern actors tend to see the world in zero-sum terms and focus on relative gains ( ‘kto kogo’ in Russian: ‘Who ultimately prevails over whom?’) post-modern actors have a benign world view stressing win-win outcomes. Indeed, the political style of Brussels is one of horse trading, of designing complex compromises with the purpose of creating outcomes palatable to all.
The end of the Cold War opened new avenues for the EU regarding the pursuit of such innovative security policies, particularly policies of cooperative security. This term became NATO jargon in 1990 and is popular within Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Cooperative security may be defined as
a non-confrontational mode of conduct which protagonists in (protracted) conflict adhere to in order to overcome old patterns. In other words, cooperative security essentially represents the unusual cases in which
former or self-defined potential enemies deal with each other by negotiating and searching for practical solutions (Knudsen, 2003, 66, emphasis his).
Does this apply to EU policy towards Russia? Functionally yes, although the term cooperative security is absent in official documents. Some might object that Brussels and Moscow do not see one another as enemies, definitely not now and not really during the Cold War when conflict management was deliberately left to NATO and the US. Yet, it would be utterly naive and reductionist to view the old EEC as merely a device for Einbindung of the French-German conflict. The EEC grew out of the Marshall Plan as an autonomous European continuation of the philosophy behind it – the Truman doctrine of 1947 that identified poverty and instability as root causes for the spread of communism (cf. Gaddis 1998, 202).
Furthermore, what made Russia dangerous when it was the Soviet Union, was not just communism, but the mixture of this ideology with traditional Russian great power expansionism – imperialism in short (Skak 1996, 76-136). It bred a self-righteous messianic style in foreign policy not unkown in pre-Soviet times. Today’s Russia happens to be both legal and cultural successor to Soviet and Czarist great power status, a fact which the Russian political elite proudly accepts. It is safe to conclude that nowadays Russia is past communism, but less safe to argue that it is past imperialism. Clearly, it is doubts about Russian intentions and future steps towards its post-Soviet neighbours wanting EU and NATO membership that inspired most EU policy towards Russia. It is about ‘engaging the bear’ in a non-confrontational manner to quote one analysis of EU –Russia security relations (Marsh and Mackenstein 2005, 195; cf. Emerson et al. 2001).
As clarified by Holger Molder (2006, 15-16) the initiators behind cooperative security are often post-modern security communities like the EU, that is regions devoid of wars, but not devoid of conflicts as such. Cooperative security is born by the recognition that it is not enough to cultivate peace on the inside. What matters is to elaborate a general security policy capable of transforming security dilemmas – mutually escalating threats and countermeasures - in relation to potential opponents into something non-threatening and benign. In reality, however, cooperative security relationships are only a halfway house towards security communities because of the thorny issue of shared values. The EU itself builds upon shared values like democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and market economies reinforcing the EU-wide security community encompassing the entire OECD area.
Following Molder (2006) it is unrealistic to expect values to be shared among cooperative security partners as he sees cooperative security as a way to compensate for this shortcoming. Elsewhere, however, he acknowledges that value clashes may undermine cooperative security when it comes to Russia: ‘Many difficulties have been connected with the fact that Russia’s security culture is different from others in the region’ [: the Baltic Sea region/ MS] (Molder 2006, 28). Accordingly, Olav F. Knudsen (2003, 72f.) insists that the need for shared values cannot just be ignored. He explains the fiascos of cooperative security - the US-Iran and US–North Korea relationships - as resulting from the lack of shared values. Likewise, NATO’s humanitarian intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was a harsh lesson in clashing values between Russia and the post-modern West.
Therefore, by embarking upon a partnership with Russia that seeks to cultivate cooperative security among the parties and hereby extend stability to the post-communist EU and NATO-members as well as Russia’s other Western neighbours the EU set itself a difficult goal. Instructively, Knudsen (2003, 69) sees the EU as having adopted Finland’s security policy, multilateralizing it ‘without intruding on its harder Finnish core’ as he puts it referring to the deployment of Finnish land mines along the Finnish-Russian border in order to avoid a replay of the Soviet attack in 1939.
Some might object that my analysis is too obsessed with issues of ‘hard’, military security to pertain to the EU-Russia partnership today which as far as Russia is concerned is very much about mundane topics like EU visa requirements for Russian citizens. Furthermore, Russia welcomed the birth of the EU CFSP in stark contrast to its stiff opposition to NATO’s rejuvenation after the Cold War, notably NATO enlargement (cf. the Medium-term Strategy presented by Borko, 2001, 131). Notwithstanding this, the frustrations surrounding EU-Russia affairs emphasize that issues are tricky and intermingled as suggested by Knudsen’s thesis of Brussels’ ‘Finlandization’. Indeed, complex interdependence is the clue to grasp what EU-Russia affairs are all about (cf. Molder 2006, 11). The insight of Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye (1977; 2001) is not that military affairs and conflicts are irrelevant, only that there is no longer a hierarchy of issues making only defence policy salient. If anything I would argue that Brussels’ approach to Russia suffers from being, in fact, too dominated by security considerations in the broad post-modern sense. In any event this approach did not prepare Brussels well for Moscow’s sudden disruption of gas to Ukraine and the energy dependence issues it highlighted (‘Who’s afraid of Gazprom?’ 2006). This is not to say that human rights and similar value issues do not matter because they evidently do for a post-modern actor like the EU as just argued. My point is merely that Brussels is not holistic enough and misses some options when dealing with Russia, cf. below.
Still, I have not provided any proof that EU policy towards Russia builds upon motivations of cooperative security. As already said the concept is absent from EU documents such as the Common Strategy (1999). Yet, the framing of the Common Strategy as part of the CFSP makes it clear that Russia is not just pillar one or three policy but exactly external security policy. Furthermore, the fact that Brussels is discreet about marketing its finalite as cooperative security is typical for this security model which avoids identifying aggressors. Cooperative security building is impossible if conflicts explode in the process (Molder 2006, 16; Knudsen 2003, 65). Cooperative security is about prevention through pro-active measures aiming to build confidence and benign reciprocity by parties outside one’s own political system. The EU vision for its partnership with Russia clearly draws upon post-modern cooperative security thinking – the very term ‘partnership’ was chosen to make Russia reciprocate. Cf.:
A stable, democratic and prosperous Russia, firmly anchored in a united Europe free of new dividing lines, is essential to lasting peace in the continent. The issues which the whole continent faces can be resolved only through ever closer cooperation between Russia and the European Union. The European Union welcomes Russia’s return to its rightful place in the European family in a spirit of friendship, cooperation, fair accommodation of interests and on the foundations of shared values enshrined in the common heritage of European civilization. (Common Strategy 1999).
What is striking about this rhetoric is the pervasive post-modern win-win ontology
hailing a stable and economically strong Russia as a gain for Brussels. The win-win argument also specifies Russia’s gains from entering this strategic partnership: ‘The offer of a reinforced relationship, based on shared democratic values, will help Russia to assert its European identity …’ (ibid.). The document goes on to promise Russia help in the field of state consolidation and insists on the EU’s and Russia’s shared interest in the latter’s integration into a common economic and social area in Europe. Brussels declares itself ‘committed to the integration of Russia into the European and world economy’ and solemnly promises to support Russia’s WTO entry (ibid. ).
In other words, the EU is trying to both persuade and flatter Russia by appealing to Russian instincts of pride (being a great power), European identity, upward mobility (wealth), and freedom (democracy). As earlier said the Common Strategy on Russia pioneered the EU ‘common strategies’ hereby signaling a privileged partnership as demanded by Russia (Romanova and Zaslavskaya 2004). The formula of road maps for the common spaces was chosen by Russia to distance itself from the EU’s remaining Western CIS neighbourhood (cf. fn. 1 above). Brussels must uphold this twist of exclusiveness to its cooperative security relationship with Russia to keep it alive, but not at any price, of course. This is being realized by Brussels which thus comes out on the side of Knudsen (2003) concerning the tricky shared values issue within cooperative security.
As shown above EU documents are explicit about which norms and values are to underpin this partnership including a Russian civil society which Brussels intends to support by stimulating exchanges between civil society actors in Russia and the Union. In sum, the EU is walking a tightrope using both sticks and carrots to bolster its own and Russia’s security insisting that this is neither a zero-sum game nor about old-fashioned state-level hard security alone. Incidentally, the European Security Strategy (2003) portrays the strategic partnership with Russia as a work in progress by using the future tense: ‘Respect for common values will reinforce progress toward a strategic partnership.’
Russian politicians would argue that another thorny issue is unaddressed within EU Ostpolitik, namely teaching post-communist countries about cooperative security. The allusion concerns primarily the Baltic states, Ukraine and Poland. This is an overlooked topic within the cooperative security literature, but less acute than Russians realize
. To the extent the problem is addressed by Knudsen (2003, 68 ff.) he answers through his core argument. Cooperative security is penetrated by two eternal power dimensions of world affairs - the logic of equity vs. the logic of dominance. The logic of equity prevails when one or both parties justify their actions in terms of balance of power implying that stability is created through countervailing power. Within the logic of dominance proponents are typically top-dogs reasoning in terms of stability and order. Over the longer term, a logic-of-equity type of cooperative security may grow vulnerable because power is dynamic (Gilpin 1981; Keohane and Nye 1977, 2001). No one can guarantee against future challenges to the power balance. However, the logic-of-dominance model is even more self-defeating as it causes the weak party’s confidence in the strong to erode which makes Knudsen (2003, 71) conclude by recommending parties to observe the logic of equity.
Consequently, he singles out NATO enlargement as underpinning - not undermining - cooperative security building throughout Europe. It provides a logic of equity between Russia and the remaining post-communist Europe. Balts and Poles will be less of a nuisance for Russia now that the former’s traumatic logic-of-dominance relationship with Russia has been redressed paving the way for pragmatism. Moreover, the European Security and Defence Policy concept almost merges the EU with NATO. As for EU efforts of cultivating a logic of equity towards Russia, the EU High Representative for the CFSP recently argued: ‘Those who have the capacity to contribute to a better world also have an obligation to act. Both Russia and the EU are among these actors…’ (Solana 2005). Javier Solana here observes another principle of cooperative security: both sides must see a clear long-term interest for themselves in cooperation. As already indicated the appeal to Russian instincts of great powerdom (velikoderzhavie in Russian) mixed with emphasis on the noblesse oblige side of the coin is quite a powerful way to engage Russia.
Another way to cultivate the logic-of-equity principle is by utilizing the superior political capital vis-a-vis Russia of the EU great powers Germany, France, and Great Britain. These three fare better when trying to influence Russia than other EU members - with the possible exception of Finland - and should seek to gain the trust of the new post-communist members instead of carelessly lecturing them. In this respect German Chancellor Angela Merkel is quite a role model reaping leverage when it comes to modus vivendi-building between the new EU east and Russia. Clearly, Brussels has multiple other interests – export interests, scientific and cultural exchange … you name it! - concerning Russia than the somewhat narrow security considerations behind cooperative security. But because the new pan-European enlargement dimension looms so large, so does cooperative security as the real finalite behind Brussels’ strategic partnership with Moscow
. Seen in isolation as premised on cooperative security, the EU policy towards Russia is sound. Yet, it is sub-optimal as mainly a derivative of making enlargement work rather than an autonomous Russia policy enjoying corresponding resources.
The modern approach of Russia towards the EU: old ‘kto kogo’ habits die hard
The EU approach to Russia may be inadequate, but this flaw is even more pronounced when it comes to Moscow’s conduct towards Brussels. The overarching shortcoming, not to say disaster in Russia’s EU policy is that it, too, is a derivative - a derivative of Russia’s obsession with
NATO and NATO enlargement as one telling illustration of Russia’s modern, neo-realist outlook on world politics. This had the effect of leaving Moscow unprepared for the highly tangible, sweeping integration dynamics of EU enlargement surpassing the significance of NATO enlargement in everyday life. This blunder of Russian foreign policy may be compared to Czarist Russia’s neglect of Western Europe’s industrialization leading to the Russian defeat in the Crimean War. In any event, the Russian academic and political elite is beginning to realize that something went awfully wrong during the recent decade of NATO bashing (Nikitin 2006). Slowly it seems to realize the need to familiarize itself with the EU as a sui generis actor in world affairs as also concluded by Western EU experts implying that Russia must develop a sui generis EU policy. One sign of Russian second thoughts about Moscow’s anachronistic EU policy is the following excerpt from a contribution by Sergei S. Karaganov, a behind-the-scenes foreign policy maker, President of the semi-official SVOP (:Soviet Vneshnei i Oboronnoi Politiki = the Council of Foreign and Defence Policy):
The Russian elite, which gravitates toward Europe, seeks to join the Old World of fifty or a hundred years ago. Meanwhile, contemporary Western Europe, which has received a unique chance to develop in a safe environment, is developing a new ‘post-European’ system of values, which differs from its traditional one in renouncing the supremacy of the nation-state, rejecting violence and gravitating toward collectivism and social justice at the expense of individualism and capitalism. (Karaganov in Lynch 2005, 33)
This painful Russian process of learning to take EU post-modernity seriously and its possible spin-off upon the EU-Russia partnership is a reminder that Brussels must carefully monitor political developments in Russia lest it gets caught in stereotypes and superficiality.
For the time being, however, Russia’s own superficiality dominates the picture. The Medium-term Strategy of Russia of 2000 quoted on p.  represents a clear-cut neo-realist ‘kto-kogo’ approach to the EU as instrumental for bolstering the position of both Russia and the EU in world affairs (read: bolstering them vis-a-vis the US). The reason why it is safe to read this agenda into the document is because it coincided with the launching of Russia’s current foreign policy doctrine along with other security and defence doctrines of 2000 - documents conforming to the kto-kogo ‘ multipolarity’ approach of former Russian Former Affairs Minister and external intelligence boss, Yevgeny Primakov (Skak 2001, 186-187; Skak 2005a)
. To be sure, Putin’s operational approach to Brussels is more pragmatic and matter-of-fact like than the policy doctrines of 2000 suggest. Yet, every now and then their short-sighted, utterly modern approach pops up in official Russian policy threatening to derail the serious EU-Russia strategic partnership.
Therefore, it remains valid to view Russia’s EU diplomacy as pretty driven by the modern, ‘Westphalian’ pursuit of so-called possession goals, i.e. seeking unilateral gains for Russia and of viewing EU-Russia affairs as a zero-sum relationship rather than one of win-win games benefiting both parties without harming third parties (Skak 2000; Skak, 2005a). Karaganov’s own often hard-nosed prose about the EU is evidence of this, a style also found with Sergei Yastrzhembskii, Putin’s aide on EU affairs (interview in Izvestia 21-04-06). Slightly exaggerated Mark N. Katz (2005, 35) argues that Putin’s foreign policy boils down to exploiting rivalries among Russia’s international partners. Despite the setbacks produced by this approach, it goes on because Russian policymakers believe it to be a clever way to advance their country’s interests.
Among his many examples is the way Putin tried to exploit Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto Treaty to blackmail the EU, Japan and Canada into guaranteeing an additional economic exchange with Russia worth 3 billion $ which they refused. Brussels was so displeased by this step that it prompted Brussels to make Kyoto ratification a precondition for supporting Russia’s entry into the WTO (ibid., 29). Although Putin has abandoned much of the animosity towards the US wanting to join the war against terror instead and exchanged rhetorics from multipolarity to a ‘multivector’ foreign policy, Russia continues to treat its EU policy as a derivative of its pursuit of a global balance of power. Specifically, Russia pursues great power concerts
 that include itself as made clear by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:
Naturally, the United States is an acknowledged centre of power. However, the European Union is developing, China is developing, India is developing, the Asia-Pacific region is developing, along with Latin America and Russia which is undoubtedly among such self-sufficient centres. A natural development of such centres of power ought to be taken into account in building the world order. It is important to do everything to make sure that when acute problems are tackled, each of these poles participates in the process of analysis, elaboration and implementation of solutions. Then the world will be genuinely stable (Lavrov 2005).
True, this concert strategy reflects legitimate efforts of heightening Russia’s voice in world affairs as a way to compensate for the drop in prestige and power which the loss of superpower status in 1991 entailed. Still, Lavrov’s words are revealing for the Russian misperception of the EU as just another pole of power or ‘like unit’ to use the jargon of neo-realism (Waltz 1979) – revealing for Russia’s reductionist view of the EU missing its sui generis post-modern features. His words suggest that Russia’s EU policy is a means to an end - gaining recognition as a great power - not an end in itself. Indeed, Russia often oscillates between either trying to manipulate Brussels as a convenient, powerful partner for weakening Washington and NATO, or pursuing the tactic of playing off the latter two against the EU switching sides every now and then, or pursuing similar divide and rule tactics inside the EU, or, lastly, treating the EU as the nuisance as when Yastrzhembskii complains about EU conditionalities for Russia’s WTO entry. Brussels is not always above ‘kto-kogo’ conduct itself, but Russian measures in this genre mostly backfires.
The global power political bias of Russia’s EU policy thus erodes the significance of Putin’s otherwise sober policy reflecting Russia’s embrace of Brussels as primary modernization partner (not the US, cf. Putin 2006). Despite his strong standing among voters, it has not been trivial for Putin to insist on this reform line by implication. Hereby he has partly pulled the carpet under Eurasianism, the perception that Russian may act as modernizer for its Asian neighbourhood; a daydream popular with Russian nationalists and former communists. Ever since his speech on Russia at the turn of the millennium, Putin has persistently highlighted Russia’s desperate need for catching up with the advanced economies by cooperating with them (Putin 1999). Another recurrent theme is his acknowledgement of Russia’s limited foreign policy resources implying that the strategic partnership with Brussels is the one and only of its kind. In reality, however, Russia has launched quite a few ‘strategic partnerships’ – with China, India and others causing inflation of the term (Nikitin 2006).
Regarding options and conflicts between the EU and Russia, Putin’s CIS policy displays significant new trends. During a visit to Armenia, a pro-CIS country, Putin revealed his contempt for this highly heterogenous forum. Nevertheless, he has created several more exclusive structures for economic and military integration in the post-Soviet sphere under Russian auspices. On 7 October 2002, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO/ODKB in Russian) was launched with former Kremlin chief of staff Nikolai Bordyuzha as Secretary General for this new alliance. Similarly, in 2005 the Eurasian Economic Community customs union of 2000 was revived making it possible that the members may ultimately form the planned Single Economic Space with or without Ukraine (‘Eurasian Economic Community’ 2006). Accordingly, Russia does oscillate between its EU strategic partnership and Eurasianism, the latter in response to EU enlargement. However, there is an evident risk that CIS economic integration is pulling Russia itself away from the EU and WTO despite Putin’s nervous assurances to the contrary (Oldberg 2004, 60).
The EU Commission is skeptical about these Moscow-sponsored integration concepts which could backfire due to the Kremlin’s historical record of repressing its backyard. Even so, Brussels should not beforehand reject any idea for developing cooperation with Moscow on CIS security affairs as urged by the Director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Security at MGIMO, Moscow, Alexander Nikitin (2006). For instance he wants the EU to copy the Concept for Joint Peace Support Operations adopted by the NATO-Russia Council, perhaps a window of opportunity for the EU to help civilizing the notoriously partial and brutal Russian conduct in peacekeeping and war operations in the post-Soviet sphere?
. Anyway, Brussels must realize that Moscow has grown more assertive and capable of asserting its power including some 'soft power' resulting from the institutional weakness of its CIS partners. For instance, Russian companies have taken over assets and boosted their influence in the CIS area Oldberg (2004, loc.cit.).
Concerning the bilateral value clash between Brussels and the Kremlin, the latter now seeks to assert itself through the doctrine of ‘sovereign democracy’ (suverennaia demokratia in Russian) coined by Putin’s chief ideologist, Vladislav Yu. Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration, Russia’s real government. Speaking before a ‘Business Russia’ audience in the context of the so-called coloured revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and later Kyrgyzstan, he stated that ‘democracy is not our only objective’ and that – notwithstanding integration - ‘one has to safeguard sovereignty’. He lashed out against orange revolutions, more precisely the activity of Freedom House - a well-known democracy monitoring institution which Surkov characterized by its formal head James Woolsey, a former CIA boss: ‘It takes an idiot to believe in the humanitarian mission of this kontora!’ (: Soviet slang for a KGB office; Surkov 2005). He called Europe a friend, but then ominiously added: ‘It is better to be enemies and not ambiguous friends as it is now!’ (ibid.). On the face of it, ‘sovereign democracy’ is about attaching the same priority to democracy as sovereignty, but as these quotations reveal, the latter is definitely the top priority and the former a secondary consideration as also held by Russian critics of the concept (Skak 2006).
As I have argued elsewhere, ‘sovereign democracy’ is a platform for mainly collectivist national conservatism serving to stave off the pressure from individualism and liberalism (Skak, 2006). Not extreme, but partly an enlightened position judging from the way it is formulated by Viacheslav A. Nikonov (2006) - head of the foreign policy agenda-setter Klub-93. He does stress the need for democracy under conditions of post-industrialism, but also rejects the integration of the EU and NATO as no-go areas for Russia (‘nam nekuda’). This may cause relief in Brussels where nobody is currently ready for Russian EU membership for obvious reasons, but this is not the problem here. What matters is that ‘sovereign democracy’ legitimizes further regress of Russia’s democracy, including regress in Russia’s tolerance of its neighbours, notably those seeking to improve their democratic credentials - in short regress for cooperative security, for ‘democratic peace’ (cf. Skak 2001)
. Not that Brussels must incessantly attack Russia for its poor record on democracy, human rights and the rule of law – sometimes it may be wiser to let Russia celebrate, for instance by hosting G8. But the West must brace itself for the way ‘sovereign democracy’ plays into Russia’s slide into state-sponsored corporatism due to the concept’s collectivist bias (Skak 2006; Miller 2006; Buckley and Ostrovsky 2006).
In this connection it is worth reminding about globalization’s potentials for degenerating into big business corporatism to the detriment of democracy and citizens as observed by Russian and Western political scientists alike (Rozanova 2003; Lehmbruch and Schmitter 1982, 266-267). It reflects the general democracy problem about corporatism, namely that corporatist channels bypass ordinary parliamentary channels. Moreover, Russia’s new variant, namely state bureaucratic rather than private oligarchic corporatism will obstruct the state’s capacity to correct its own mistakes through the intervention of forces outside the government such as free, critical media, parliamentary opposition and civil society. This last point may be a good one to bring up in the EU-Russia dialogue which must mix genuine empathy towards Russia with assertiveness in order to be truly ‘win-win’ (Skak 2005b).
It is a point that links with the philosopher Karl R. Popper’s (1966) reasoning about the open society which is not about democracy for democracy’s own sake – democracy being ‘the worst form of government’ as Churchill realized in late 1947 ‘except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time’ – but about any society’s capacity to correct its own mistakes in a non-violent manner
. All in all then, the EU-Russia partnership is rich on challenges to say the least. They include certain overlooked options, one being to contribute to socialize Russia into state-of-the-art peacekeeping norms
; another to open an earnest dialogue on the open society and the pitfalls of globalization and corporatism.
On EU-Russia comlex interdependence – two key power asymmetries
To recapitulate in terms of what is at stake in the EU-Russia relationship seen from Brussels, my analysis highlighted the target of cooperative security, of transforming this former conflict relation into something benign and conducive for the entire post-enlargement EU and for Russia reflecting the post-modern win-win ethics of EU decision-makers. However, this overarching security concern tends to obscure other EU concerns such as energy highlighted at the outset as what dominates EU-Russia affairs in everyday life. Besides, EU post-modernity turns interests like the spread of democracy, human rights and environmental considerations into high politics which opens for value clashes with Russia, quite another modern actor in world affairs. Lastly, the EU-Russia strategic partnership may not be that strategic, but a more tactical derivative of EU enlargement as a key EU concern partly for good reasons.
Turning to Russia and what’s in the EU-Russia partnership from Moscow’s view I stressed Russia’s EU diplomacy as an even more clear-cut derivative – a derivative of Russia’s misguided NATO bashing and Moscow’s general ‘kto kogo’ politics of balancing, dividing and ruling. These mainly short-term Russian impulses threaten to derail Russia’s modernization economically and politically - Russia’s vital, truly strategic target translating into a strategic interest in the EU partnership. In other words, the often mentioned asymmetry of the EU-Russia partnership is really an asymmetry where Moscow needs Brussels more than vice versa. This is the first hypothesis of power asymmetry to be examined below, the other being that even when it comes to energy, Russia may only superficially have the upper hand because of its deep structural problems at home.
Before going into this a word is needed on complex interdependence theory. As already indicated, this framework for updating the analysis of international relations rejects the modern focus on military security affairs arguing instead that what matters most must be established empirically in each relationship. Further, issues within different sectors may often be interlinked making those capable of skillful issue-linking likely winners. The typical pattern rarely turns out as simple, unbalanced dependence nor symmetrical interdependence between parties, but exactly as complex interdependence (Keohane and Nye 2001, 9). In order to calculate such ubiquitous power asymmetries, Keohane and Nye introduce a distinction between sensitivity and vulnerability. For them sensitivity is about how quickly changes in one country bring costly changes in another and how great they are (ibid., 10). It is about being liable to a change in flows in the broadest sense imposed from outside. However, actors sensitive to change may have some alternative to turn to. Conversely, vulnerability precludes alternatives making change in this case far more harmful. Hence, vulnerability refers to the weaker party in a power relationship, whereas sensitivity is a clue for the stronger party who may compensate for change.
One further twist must be added to this reasoning. Today, under conditions of transnationalism, post-industrialism and globalization it is not just quantitative disparities of power that matter, but very much the qualitative ones. It is no coincidence that Keohane and Nye’s trailblazer was later followed by Nye’s works on ‘hard’ (tangible, quantifiable) vs. ‘soft’ (immaterial) power, the latter often pertinent to even small actors in international relations. In terms of method it renders quantitative expositions of patterns of interdependence in the shape of tables and computations inferior to verbal, qualitative analysis, notably when the purpose is to expose subtler imbalances within the EU-Russia partnership as is the intention here.
Turning to the first hypothesis of a power asymmetry generally in favour of Brussels, let me repeat that both sides’ policy towards the other tend to be a derivative of other priorities, but in a more fatal sense of blunder in Russia’s case. In other words, Brussels should not read too much into Moscow’s currently overblown world political ego stemming from today’s oil and gas wealth (Fedorov 2006). This said, there is a structural truth in the observation that a geopolitical giant, nuclear power and energy superpower like Russia is immune to outside influences to quite another extent than the small post-communist newcomers as EU- and NATO members since 2004 who are anything but immune as powerfully displayed by their conscious disciplining by EU and NATO standards (Skak 2005b; 1996). This reflects an axiom within the comparative study of foreign policy, namely the differing foreign policy situation of great powers vs. small states.
Inside Russia, however, this insight tends to inspire myths about a Russian option of logic of dominance, of Russia being able to dictate Brussels ‘Moscow rules’ – partly the objective behind the sovereign democracy doctrine launched as culmination upon Putin’s strengthening of Russian state power (cf. Skak 2005b). ‘Myths’ because they ignore the subtle, non-state nature of EU power, the integration dynamics from below due to the establishment of the Single Market and the corresponding potentials of Russia’s own PCA stressed by the Swiss scholar Stephan Kux (2003). It amounts to a Russian option of de facto, albeit not de jure EU entry as said in the introduction to this contribution
. Following Kux, Russia will increasingly find itself in the same situation as Norway and Switzerland, non-EU members who keenly implement EU directives in order to prosper from the high EU standards thus imposed.
Such levers are what leads the two EU external relations’ experts, Steve Marsh and Hans Mackenstein (2005, 199) to conclude that ‘the combination of functional, institutional and multilevel programmes has enabled the EU to be far more intrusive in Russian affairs than any other external actor’. In other words, Russia may be almost insensitive to external influences with the very notable exception of influences from exactly the EU in relation to which Russia is not just sensitive, but downright vulnerable. This, in turn stems from the fact that these EU dynamics are unique leaving Russia with no alternatives to this partner (cf. Leonard, 2005). One reason why this is so is geography – except for a tiny strip of Norway, the EU is Russia’s primary direct neighbour to the west. Or to quote the Finnish analyst Pekka Sutela (2005, 10): ‘The EU is the market Russia has.’ What is more, whereas Russia is highly dependendent on EU markets the EU only trades little with Russia. Russia is the EU’s fifth trade partner after the USA, Switzerland, China and Japan (ibid., 11).
Again: it is less the quantitative disparities which these striking trade trends document, but rather the quality of the EU option which makes this relation the magical one for Russia. The intimate partnership with Brussels opens for critical grass-root cultural, economic, and, ultimately, political developments. Take the example of tourism: Russians are nowadays crowding the Alps on skiing holidays or visiting friends and relatives living in Europe. Quite a few Russian citizens spend long time abroad studying, working or whatever – so many that there is a certain east-east growth engendered by Russian workers taking up jobs in Poland abandoned by Poles going westwards. These dimensions are all too often ignored because the beneficiaries are ordinary citizens or consumers in economic parlance, a stratum outside the horizon of the arrogant Russian political class. True, the magic began inside Russia, namely when Gorbachev and subsequently Yeltsin dismantled the Soviet totalitarian state and opened Russia for impulses from abroad. Russia’s citizenry basically identifies with this outcome rather than any closed society
Turning to the energy relationship, this field is clearly where EU-Russia interdepedence is most symmetrical (Sutela 2005, 14 ff.). Russia already covers one fourth of the combined EU demand for gas, and import needs are rising making the EU increasingly dependent on the Russian virtual state gas monopoly, Gazprom. However, the high and rising Russian share of the EU gas market reflects Moscow’s high dependence on one consumer group representing high purchasing power (‘Who’s afraid of Gazprom?’ 2006). True, one must not jump to conclusions about Russian vulnerability as new powerful end-users begin to compete for Russian energy, notably the US and China. Before the EU-Russia summit in Sochi Putin openly played the China card to deter Brussels from demanding liberalization of the Russian energy market. However, he was mainly bluffing
. Dialogue was resumed at the Sochi summit, where Putin rejected that China is an alternative to the EU energy market. He was surprisingly forthcoming concerning liberalization:
‘We spoke openly about the fact that if our European partners want us to let them into the holy of holies of our economy, namely the energy sector, and if we do this as many would like it to be done, then we expect something in return regarding the most critical and important areas of our development.’ (‘Press Conference following the EU-Russia summit’ 2006).
The ups and downs of the gas row of 2006 thus illustrate a Kremlin awareness about its rather illusory alternatives, its relative vulnerability in case of turbulence in EU-Russia relations as was actually the case here. At home Russia faces ‘Dutch disease’ – an overheated, lopsided economy – and is in desperate need for Western investments into boosting its energy production, constructing and modernizing pipelines, challenges coming on top of a looming demographic disaster, an explosion of HIV etc. On the EU side of the equation, the biggest problem is the lack of cohesion as when former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder struck his own deal with Putin (Larsen 2006). The EU nuclear energy option is resurfacing as a long-term alternative to Russian energy along with other alternatives to fossil fuels.
The above study of one regional case of the CFSP, namely the EU-Russia strategic partnership, argued the complex nature of this relationship which is about security, but in a very broad sense with a series of criss-crossing sub-issues and agendas, such as energy security. On its own cooperative security terms the EU policy towards Russia is basically sound, but sub-optimal. Brussels must realize its own and Moscow’s strengths, weaknesses and options such as helping to socialize Russia into contemporary peace-keeping norms and opening an earnest dialogue about the open society and the pitfalls of globalization and corporatism. Although critics perceive the EU-Russia strategic partnership as hollow it is instrumental for establishing a logic of equity and has certainly been accompanied by substance – the four common spaces - to which Russia partly reciprocates as recently seen in Sochi. Ultimately, Moscow prefers the postmodern win-win ethics of Brussels as a contrast to the prevailing modern ‘kto-kogo’ ethics of its other great power partners such as China to whom ethics of empathy and solidarity do not apply.
Apart from that it is tempting to rephrase Robert Kagan’s insight about the disparities in political culture across the Atlantic and conclude that Brussels is from Venus, Moscow from Mars. In any event the above analysis documented the ambiguous, often self-defeating nature of Russia’s political goals and games as an ongoing challenge for the outside world and for the citizenry of Russia. Take Moscow’s obsession with NATO enlargement that left Russia unprepared for the paradigmatic change associated with the eastern enlargement of the EU. This latter dynamic, however, plays into Russia’s own opening towards the outside world and is slowly, but irreversibly changing Russia from below, something that few Russian decision-makers and publicists grasp due to their anachronistic statist outlook.
Consequently, Moscow hardly negotiates from a position of strength despite current appearances to the contrary. Russia is basically vulnerable in the sense that the alternative to integration with the West already has been played out during its turbulent twentieth-century history as an utter tragedy. This fact should not, however, inspire shallow triumphalism, but serve as point of departure for a much better coordinated EU policy towards Russia and close EU-US cooperation on the matter. The formula must be empathy and assertiveness. Russia’s actual return to Europe politically is not a foregone conclusion judging from Steven Rosefielde’s (2005) warning about Russian militarization and his thesis of Moscow’s most superficial transition from Soviet political economy. A similar sombre analysis is offered in a monograph whose Russian title means The Dangerous Russia (Afanasiev 2001).
Continuing in this pessimistic vein, the rising EU energy dependence upon the Kremlin has already opened for Russian games of divide and conquer due to the lack of EU cohesion and foresight on this issue. The underlying reason is the unevenly distributed dependence upon Russian energy across countries – with Finland in the same dire straits as the post-communist states whereas my own country, Denmark, exports natural gas (Larsen 2006). On the other hand, this year’s gas row was a wake-up call helping to boost EU legitimacy if and when Brussels acts to secure Europe against energy blackmail. Energy security and similar collective action challenges – such as counter-terrorism - may thus help to defuse the Constitution Treaty crisis and boost EU power. In any event, not just for Brussels but even more for Moscow the other party remains an indispensable, if difficult partner (Lynch 2005, 115 ff.). This is due to the complex, long-term interdependence between these two actors in the world.
 Russia’s road maps for its common spaces are less ambitious than the Action Plans covering EU relations with other Western post-Soviet countries (Vahl 2006, 12-16). Still, they do add substance to EU-Russia cooperation and open for ‘pillar three’ cooperation (Justice and Home Affairs) along with ‘freedom’ issues of human rights and civil society (Romanova and Zaslavskaya 2004).
 During a visit to Germany - at a time of cool EU-Russia relations - Putin said: ‘We have received proposals via certain channels for a larger involvement of Germany and the EU to solve the Chechnya problem. We would like to accept them wholly and completely’ (‘Putin signals Chechnya initiative’ 2004). The EU aid effort was further institutionalized in Sochi (‘Press Conference following the EU-Russia summit’ 25-05-06).
 The Soviet shift into acknowledging the EEC as an autonomous actor in world affairs came as late as 1972 reflecting Moscow’s obsession with Washington as rival. Yet it represented a breakthrough.
 The concept of transnationalism preceded today’s concept of globalization. It refers to ‘the processes whereby international relations conducted by governments have been supplemented by relations among private individuals, groups, and societies that can and do have important consequences for the course of events’ (Rosenau 1980:1).
 Russia exaggerates the alleged repression of Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states and fails to appreciate when the Balts try to not live up to their bad image in Russia. Thus, the Latvian President did attend the prestigiuous Victory Day parades in Moscow on 9 May, 2005.
 The intimate coupling between EU enlargement and the EU’s Russia policy permeated former EU Commission President Romano Prodi’s (2002) speech at the 9th EU-Russia summit: ‘We have no wish to see an exclusion syndrome developing on our eastern borders. […] Among our neighbours, none is more important than Russia. We need to work together to maximize the benefits of enlargement: new markets, more investment.’ On that occasion Brussels recognized Russia as a market economy.
 True, Karaganov errs when portraying the EU as collectivist insofar as the EU-Russia value clash stems from Russia’s murky collectivist past. I believe he wrote this in order to challenge Russian prejudices about the EU as just a club of corporate managers. On another occasion he exposed his colleagues’ ignorance about transnationalism (see fn. 4) asserting that ‘there is a very small stratum of people in this country who can monitor global tendencies thoroughly, if it exists at all’ (Radio Ekho Moskvy, 11-05-04; for a fuller quotation see Skak 2005a).
 Again in early 2001 the Russian Foreign Minister called for making Europe a powerful independent entity in order to strengthen the new multipolar system, see my EU-Russia paper (Skak 2005a: 5).
 The political science concept of concert refers to great power clubs like the international order of post-Napoleonic Europe from 1814 and onwards (Watson 1992). At minimum concerts presuppose moderation for the sake of avoiding major wars engaging great powers on opposing sides. The back side of the medal is that concerts mostly ignore the interests of the small states and other actors. The quintessential contemporary concert is the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
 Remarkably, CSTO head Bordyuzha has warned against a withdrawal of the US from its new bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan thus distancing himself from mainstream Russian ‘kto-kogo’ views on the matter. Putin’s embrace of the US-led war against terror already suggested burden-sharing with the West, a point elaborated by Bordyuzha: ‘We should not forget that the Taliban movement has restored its organizational structure, replenished its ranks, and is ready for combat again’ (Bordyuzha 2005). He wants the US to withdraw only ‘after the situation in Afghanistan has stabilized’ (ibid.).
 ‘Sovereign democracy’ has been characterized as a tool allowing the Kremlin ‘to restrict the impact of international law, global economic bodies, and world public opinion on Russia’s domestic politics’ (Yasmann 2006). Despite the concept’s reactionary bias Surkov sought to broaden its appeal by tracking its origin to Che Guevara, still a revolutionary icon for many worldwide.
 Concerning pitfalls, Harvey Balzer (2005, 222) draws a parallel between Putin’s model of state bureaucratic corporatism within the Russian energy sector - the structural backbone of Russia’s economic great-powerhood – and the rise and fall of Spain in the sixteenth to seventheeth century, a case of utterly mismanaged, one-dimensional hegemony.
 Generally, the US is of greater relevance for Russia as hard security partner, a fact realized by Karaganov, possibly also Putin.
 Russia might make its EU membership a fait accompli simply by inducing Russian small and medium sized firms producing manufactured goods to comply with the aquis communautaire. Smart producers may do this already. If Brussels fails to reciprocate it will pay off as a tiger jump into heightened competitiveness beyond energy and raw materials. Similarly, reforms improving transparency and the rule of law is a win-win game.
 Russian publicists – and Western analysts, too - presuppose that Russians want a third way, neither capitalism nor communism, but a fusion of collectivism, paternalism and patriotism dubbed sobornost’. Precious few reflect on the fiasco of social democracy – a real third way option - with Russian voters.
 Russia’s energy relationship with China is disharmonious due to the Kremlin’s blocking of the Khodorkovsky-owned Yukos oil company’s deal with Beijing about oil shipments via the Daqing route (Katz 2005). Sino-Russian trade is growing, but reached less than 12 billion $ in 2003 when EU-Russia trade totalled nearly 70 billion $ - before enlargement! (Liuhto 2004). Finnish-Russian trade alone matches the level of US-Russia trade. Moreover, China is a problematic partner for Russia among other things due to the disastrous effects upon Russian forests from illegal timber exports to China causing raised eyebrows among Western scientists (‘Some assembly required’ 2006).
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