EU Moves Toward New Official Russia Policy: Isolation – POLITICO
The EU aims to formalize a new Russian strategy: isolation.
According to an internal draft seen by POLITICO, EU officials are discussing new principles to replace the outdated document that guides the bloc’s policy towards Moscow.
The most notable updated principle? “Isolating Russia internationally, imposing and implementing restrictive measures against Russia and preventing their circumvention.”
In some ways, the tweak is just a mere reflection of the reality on the ground. Since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the EU has focused on enacting and then enforcing sweeping sanctions targeting much of the economy, imports and exports of the country. country.
But with war still raging, not everyone agrees that the time has come to settle questions about how to approach the EU’s long-term relationship with Moscow.
This means that a discussion for weeks or months is likely to come. And those talks officially began on Monday, when EU foreign ministers discussed the project seen by POLITICO during a meeting in Brussels.
The draft text – prepared by the bloc’s diplomatic corps and dubbed a ‘line to follow’ in EU jargon – includes six points intended to replace the previous five guiding principles the bloc agreed on in 2016. Diplomats stressed that the project is intended to incite discussion from anyone.
Besides isolation, the document’s main tenets include ‘ensuring accountability’ for all Russian war crimes and ‘supporting EU neighbours’ – largely a reference to Balkan countries, several of which are seeking membership. to the EU. It also refers to ‘working closely with NATO allies’, ‘supporting civil society’ in Russia and ‘strengthening EU resilience’, a nod to the bloc’s energy dependence on Russia. vis-à-vis Moscow, to the rise of cyberattacks and the proliferation of digital disinformation.
Top European diplomat Josep Borrell could address the subject at a press conference later on Monday.
The new draft bears little resemblance to the one the EU has technically been working on since 2016. That document included a number of principles that no longer apply: ending a conflict between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine in east of the country, selectively engaging Russia on issues such as the fight against terrorism and support for people-to-people contacts.
Strengthening civil society and building closer ties with EU neighbors were also on the initial list.
Generally speaking, the updated draft should not cause major problems, diplomats said.
A point of contention is the language declaring that “there can be no return to normal relations” as long as Moscow attacks Ukraine and violates international law. Diplomats said the Baltic countries, traditionally more hawkish towards Russia, want this line to be stronger. But they also added that Germany is happy with the current text.