Exploring the Relevance of Engagement and Containment Approaches in the European Union’s Management of Relations with Russia

Date: 2009
File: Link
Since 2006, Russia has grown more assertive and even hawkish in its approach to the European Union (EU), even seen as attempting to divide the large EU membership so as to consolidate its influence in Europe.
In an age of changing geo-political configurations, it is fitting to look into the way the EU and its members might take a more realist perspective in handling relations with Russia through an engagement and containment approach, as opposed to one resting in post-modernism. Initially conceived as a market and a political settlement in the 1950s among hitherto war-prone nations, the EU has devolved power to a strong bureaucracy with legislative capacity, human resources and funds. Deeper EU engagement and more pragmatic containment of Russia requires greater political focus inside the EU, with emphasis on public ownership of decisions, stronger internal solidarity, trust-building with Russia and eventually joint projects. External partnerships with other influential states are equally necessary. The creation of sub-groups in the EU, along lines of common history, geography or culture, even on an informal basis, appears as a necessary stepping stone to initiate deeper integration, since the present large membership intrinsically handicaps policy coherence, strategy-making and the development of relationships.

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