Russia-EU

By Andrew Foxall, The Henry Jackson Society

Western sanctions against Russia, first imposed in March, have strengthened that significant body of Russia’s elite who want to see a much more state-led style of development. During last week’s Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, President Putin argued that sanctions would help Russia’s ambitions by reducing its economic dependence on the West.

While Russia’s emphasis on self-sufficiency pre-dates the Ukraine crisis, its statism has intensified as Russia’s economy has started to show the strain of sanctions. Read more

A Russian bailout that Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich brokered last month appears to have propped up Kiev’s central bank reserves that were dwindling last year amid weak demand for Ukraine’s exports and a recession that was triggered, in part, by lack of reforms.

But the bailout has not stabilised the situation on Kiev’s streets. Read more

By Kinga Dudzińska and Anna Maria Dyner of PISM

To the west, relations between Poland and Russia are often perceived as negative, mainly due to their history. However, one evident success of their bilateral cooperation in small border traffic (SBT) between northern Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast, with almost a year and a half of evidence showing it’s working well. Read more

Gateway to Europe no more?

What do you do if you have a Russian passport, available funds, and want to get long-term travel documents for the Schengen area (the 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders)? For many, over the last three years, the answer has been simple: head to Latvia and make use of its programme of residence permits for foreign investors.

But not for long, perhaps. Immigration legislation is on the agenda, and is the subject of a big poitical debate. Read more

By Dmitry Medvedev

In a few days many heads of state and government will take part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Vientiane, Laos. This forum is unique. Established in 1996, it brings together countries from Europe, South Asia and the Pacific region to debate our increasing global interdependence, including the need for deeper regional integration.

When Russia joined ASEM in 2010 it was of great importance, not only for us and the organisation itself, but for the entire system of international relations. It allowed us to literally “connect” two influential political and economic centres in the world. And it is increasingly clear that sustainable global development requires a system of interconnected yet independent regional integration mechanisms. Read more

Investors appear to have shrugged off news that the European Commission has opened a formal investigation of the Russia’s natural gas monopoly for suspected anti-competitive practices in European gas markets. But that does not mean that the problem will go away.

Gazprom’s share price has hardly changed since Brussels announced yesterday that it would investigate whether Gazprom was abusing its monopoly position in the EU where Russia accounts for around 26 per cent of gas supplies. Read more

The European Commission on Tuesday launched an investigation into anti-competitive practices by Russia’s Gazprom, in a move that is likely to ratchet up tensions between Europe and Moscow over energy policy. Read more

After finally joining the club following 18 years of negotiations, Russia might start wishing WTO membership was back on the to-do list.

On Wednesday, the European Commission published a report on protectionism in which it pointed out that Russia “deserves close scrutiny as one of the most frequent users of trade-restrictive measures” – a possible forerunner to filing a case against the country. Read more

It could have been an opportunity to crow about the eurozone crisis. But Vladimir Putin was in a friendly mood when he met François Fillon, his French counterpart, on Friday for talks aimed at expanding Russia’s business ties with Europe’s second biggest economy. Read more