Eastern EuropeEuropeEuropean UnionFlashpoints IssueRussia

Confrontation in Eastern Europe: The Russian Challenge to the European Union

By Roger E. Kanet

A quarter century after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union are frozen, in large part as a result of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and the ensuing economic and political sanctions imposed on Russia by both the EU and the United States. But, the conflicts between the two sides extend much further than just to the issue of Ukraine. Other potential flashpoints, from Nagorno Karabagh and the secessionist regions of Georgia, to frictions in Russian relations with the Baltic states, and Russian meddling in domestic politics in European countries are all evidence of the fragility of relations between Russia and the European Union. Over the course of the past decade, Russia has increasingly challenged the existing global order to which the member states of the EU have been strongly committed for more than half a century. It has also begun to challenge the Union itself, as well as the democratic institutions upon which the national governments of the EU are based.

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