| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Double standards and cynicism in Russia and the EU

Collage of EU and Russia Flags The iron curtain may have rusted but questions still linger as Europe and Russia grapple for influence and interests in the new world order.

With Europe peddling double standards and Russia spreading seeds of doubt, both sides are teetering over a spiral of mistrust as governments scrutinise one another and people sigh behind confounding visa regimes.
Image adapted from original copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036 http://www.rferl.org/

Time to re-evaluate

The brave new world of the post-cold war era has been hampered by financial crisis, new security threats, and a shift of allegiances. The world that diplomats and statesmen looked out on in the 1990s is gone.

"The current relationship [between Russia and the EU] is unprecedented and fragile. We have a post imperial Russia and a united Europe," Mark Leonard, European Council on Foreign Relations director told a roundtable of experts and diplomats at the Carnegie Centre in December.

"We are here today partly because of the crisis and partly because of geo-political changes," he said.

There is a chink of light above this gloomy new diplomatic landscape, built largely around the Russia-US reset and Russian president Medvedev's quest for modernisation.

"This is mood music which might allow us to have a different relationship... Both Europe and Russia feel vulnerable right now because of the crisis," he said.

Double standards

But there are bumps in the road towards a more harmonious future. The Eastern Partnerships, a forum for the EU to discuss energy and other issues with its eastern neighbours, the expansion of NATO, and the expansion of the EU were all seen as steps against Russia.

When Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia made overtures to the EU and NATO, who opened up and incorporated them, Russia was told 'it's not a move against you.' "But of course it was a move against Russia. Say one thing, do another, there are double standards operating against Russia," Jens Siegert of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, said at the roundtable.

"They were not meant as such... [But] The Eastern Partnership is partly directed against Russia... not because the EU wanted to do something against Russia, if it was avoidable they would have avoided it, but because there are different interests...and not only different but competing," he told The Moscow News afterwards.

"The EU's interests are legitimate, as are the Russians' interests," he said by telephone. But Europe telling Russia that gestures like this are not against them will fall on deaf ears.


The former Eastern Bloc states lie squarely between Europe and Russia but since the days of the USSR they have jumped on board the EU mother ship. This makes issues like the proposed American defence shield on Polish soil a touchy issue.

It has produced rhetoric from both sides that Siegert says is not entirely honest. "For many Russian people this looks like double standards and the leadership of Russia is very skilled in using this to manipulate the public."

"Russia is degrading into a more authoritarian state...It is very easy and convenient for the Russian government to convince people that the EU leadership is like the leadership here in Russia, just trying to compete and win advances," Siegert said.

Opening up

The way ahead focuses on specific issues, says Polina Sokolova of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations. "Russian authorities condition their trust towards the EU through the lens of visa liberalisation. And agreement in this area would definitely become the best trust-building measure, both sides would profit from it," she told The Moscow News.

Keyword Tags:

Russia, Europe - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet