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Crisis as a Window of Opportunity: Prospects of the Russia-EU Relations in the Context of the Eastern Partnership Development
Abstract.The subject of the present study is the crisis of the Russia-EU relations triggered by the Ukrainian issue in the context of the development of the Eastern Partnership. Marking out the main directions of the Russian expert discourse on the problematics of the Eastern Partnership, the author emphasizes their the most important aspects and through the lens of the key theses analyzes the differences between the European and Eurasian integration processes competing for political loyalty of the Eastern partners in the zone of Russia's traditional vital interests. However, the author highlights that the current Russian-European crisis was preceded by the accumulation of deeper structural root causes. In this connection, special attention is paid to the analysis of both the key crisis factors and possible scenarios for the post-crisis development of Russian-European relations through the imminent reorientation of the Eastern Partnership program. In this scenario the author underlines the colossal potential of the participating countries as an interactive and transit platform for the rapprochement of the two integration projects,rather than their mutual opposition. In the article the author is guided by the categories of non-functional regionalism in its broad interpretation within which the geopolitical processes under study are viewed from the position of regional integration associations. In addition, the study used an interdisciplinary approach which contributed to conduction of a more comprehensive analysis of the key crisis factors that led to deterioration of the Russia-EU relations. Within the framework of this article the author comes to several conclusions the main of which are the following theses: 1) The Ukrainian crisis was only a trigger for complication of the Russian-European relations. The real root causes were the structural processes that took place in Europe, which created conditions for aggravation of the relations between Russia and the European Union. 2) The root causes of the intra-European crisis are more complex and less obvious, but jointly they have created all conditions for both the predicted further growth of EU-scepticism and the loss of attractiveness of the European integration model itself. 3) There are at least four main scenarios for further development of the Russian-European relations, which one way or another are tied to the Ukrainian issue. 4) The policy of opposing Russia and the European Union has demonstrated its counterproductive nature, therefore, in policy-making circles of the EU and Russia there is a growing awareness of the need to reconcile, restore mutual trust and seek common ground. 5) Undoubtedly, the Eastern Partnership project has a future, but Brussels should revise its format in order to update its principles and tools in accordance with the requirements of the current international conjuncture. 6) The countries belonging to the Eastern Partnership should not become an object of geopolitical competition, but a territory for combining the two integration projects, thus enhancing the economic effect of their convergence.
Keywords: European Union , Eastern Partnership , EEU , Ukrainian crisis , institutional integration, Association agreement, anti-Russian sanctions, Wider Europe, USA, Russia
Article was received:19-12-2016
This article written in Russian. You can find full text of article in Russian here .