Russia and European Security and Defence Policy: Problematic
This paper examines the development of cooperation between Russia and the European Union on issues of European security and defence. The research reveals that despite a common wish of Russia and the EU to build a strategic partnership, there is still a big gap between rhetoric and the real state of affairs. The explanations can be found not in different perceptions of the challenges the European continent faces, but rather in different expectations of what both sides ought to gain from this cooperation. Not the last role, play the relations of Russia and the EU with „the third parties” like the USA and NATO. The new members of the EU can also much influence further interaction between the European Union and Russia. Though the EU-Russia cooperation in the field of security and defence remains a problematic area, some formal steps towards forming a strategic partnership have been taken. As a result of EU enlargement and the necessity to adopt a new EU strategy on Russia in 2004, this year has a crucial impact upon further EU-Russia interaction.
Keywords: The European Union, Russia, Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), strategic partnership, Common Strategy of the European Union on Russia (CSR), Medium-Term Strategy for the Development of Relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union (Medium-Term Strategy), the Western European Union (WEU), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), “soft” security, “hard” security, European Rapid Reaction Forces (ERRF)
Since the early 1990s an enormous number of conferences, seminars, forums, and round tables have taken place on various aspects of relations between the European Union and Russia. Both national and international ones, they initially addressed a philosophical and, to some extent, abstract question „Is Russia part of Europe or apart from Europe?” (Baranovsky 2001: 429-442)
Since the relationship has progressed, much prominence has been given to particular aspects of EU-Russia interaction in the fields of politics, economics, security and culture. Debates and controversies during such conferences reflect the level of contradictions and inconsistency in the political relations between Russia and the European Union over the last decade.
Since the Cologne European Council (June 1999), the EU Member States have committed themselves to the development of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the EU-Russia cooperation acquired a new dimension, the so called a “strategic partnership”. However, this partnership is often referred to be a problematic one. The lack of progress in the development of EU-Russia cooperation in the framework of ESDP has been recognised by many Russian and Western experts. The task of this paper is to address the formal side of co-operation on the issues of security and defence by looking at official documents and declarations, and to compare it with the level of its further practical implementation. The paper seeks to identify the reasons why the EU-Russia security dialogue just reiterates the same „spinning” model of EU-Russian co-operation, which was being formed in the early 1990s, and represents again a „triumph of process over substance”, as it was rightly noticed by one Commission official. (Goven 2000: 10) The main conclusion of the paper is that despite both sides are obviously interested in stable and constructive relations in a long-term perspective, other considerations, interests and external factors have impeded a move to a practical stage of cooperation on the issues of security and defence. However, the challenges the EU currently faces in relations with Russia (recent EU enlargement and Kaliningrad issue respectively, the expiry of the EU “Common Strategy on Russia” etc.) may soon require more concrete steps towards Russia. The latter, in its turn, may also respond with a new approach to the EU-Russia cooperation. A new European policy of Russia may also occur not only as an answer to EU initiatives but rather as an objective outcome of new priorities of the Russian foreign policy, which can be approved for a new electoral circle by the President, the newly formed Russian government and the recently elected State Duma (Russian legislative body). This current political dynamics makes the topic of EU-Russia cooperation worth for research and analysis.
Common Foreign and Security Policy / European Security and Defence Policy:
Ambitions versus Capabilities
The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was institutionalised as the second pillar of the European Union in Maastricht in 1991. Meanwhile the EU had to go a long path through an interminable number of meetings, declarations and commitments before the security project acquired concrete outlines at the Cologne European Council in June 1999. It concluded that the European Union was to expand the Common Foreign and Security Policy so that the EU would „have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO.”
At the Helsinki European Council (December 1999) the EU made one step further. Along with CFSP the European Council committed the EU Member States to the development of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The main goal was to achieve the capacity to deploy up to 15 brigades or 50,000-60,000 persons by the year 2003. Though these troops were not supposed to be a standing EU army, they were to be available at 60 days’ notice. This European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF) was supposed to resort to the whole range of instruments from diplomatic activity, humanitarian assistance and economic measures to civilian policing and military crisis management operations. However, it was stressed that NATO would remain the foundation of the collective defence of its members, and would continue to have an important role in crisis management.
As the British researcher Mark Webber points out, since the time of both Councils the rhetoric has lowed down. It has been replaced by much more sober assessments relating to questions of implementation. (Webber 2001: 407)
ESDP proved to be quite a controversial issue among the member states. Opinions on a scale to operate independently of the USA and NATO vary considerably among the fifteen. As a result, only after four years of hot discussions and searching for a compromise, the EU was finally able to adopt the European Security Strategy at the Brussels European Council in December 2003. The lack of the common political will extends to financing and capabilities to build strong military force and independent defence identity comparable with those the USA and NATO posses. By May 2001, EU High Representative for Common and Security Policy, Javier Solana, had to admit that the lack of certain capabilities meant that the EU would not, after all, be able to undertake the most demanding military missions within the timetable set at Helsinki in 1999. (Clarke; Cornish 2002: 785)
At the moment only two small sized EU police missions are active in Macedonia (PROXIMA), and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thus, while analysing the potential opportunities for EU interaction with the parties outside EU formal membership (like Russia or NATO) within the ESDP framework, there are three points to be made in this connection:
- ESDP is a recent project of the EU, which must be fully institutionalised before being transformed in a meaningful „practical phase”. This process is not an easy path, accompanied by heated arguments among the member states.
- The EU is developing ESDP, offering simultaneously to other actors to cooperate within its framework. Since the evolution of EU intentions on European security and defence is an ongoing process, and practical outcomes are often unclear, the invitation made for the non-members to interact is even more a “declaration” rather than a “substance”.
- Incoherence in international cooperation within the ESDP framework has to do with the fact that the EU tries to include in this project the third parties whose interests and approaches to the European security and defence do not necessarily coincide. As a result, the EU has to clarify its intentions, and to slow down its association with some actors, while going further and faster with other ones.
Russia in CFSP/ESDP project of the European Union: progress in the 1990s
As some Western scholars like to point out, „...it would be banal to suggest that the EU has an interest in good relations with Moscow. The obvious facts of geographic proximity and economic interdependence, coupled with concerns relating to the effects upon European states of environmental degradation, organised crime and migration, have long been seen as necessitating an active engagement with Russia.” (Webber 2001: 409) The intensity of the trade co-operation between Russia and the EU is one of the main arguments often used by the Russian side to demonstrate the importance of EU-Russia relations. Indeed, up to 40 % of Russia's foreign trade is conducted with the European Union. After EU enlargement, it has risen to 50 % - 60 %.
As far as EU policy towards Russia within the CFSP framework is concerned, initially it dealt mainly with economic and technical issues (the initiation of the TACIS programme in the late 1991). The signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia at the Corfu European Council in June 1994 was, according to Flemming Splidsboel-Hansen, „a last-minute attempt by the EU to lend critical support to the Russian reformers ahead of the December 12th Duma elections.” (Splidsboel-Hansen 2002: 409) PCA’s principal focus remained upon economic issues.
The decision of the Madrid European Council in December 1995 can be regarded as the first attempt to form a more strategic approach to Russia. In an approved „European Union’s Strategy for Future EU/Russia Relations” stated, that „good relations between the EU and a democratic Russia would be „essential for stability in Europe”. The EU was „therefore committed to establishing a substantial partnership with Russia in order to promote the democratic and economic reform process, to enhance the respect of human rights, to consolidate peace, stability and security in order to avoid new dividing lines in Europe and to achieve the full integration of Russia into the community of free and democratic nations.”
The document mentioned dialogue and partnership between the Union and Russia in the field of security, including relevant aspects of disarmament, non-proliferation, arms export controls and conflict prevention and management. The EU intended to assist Russia in solving new, security-related challenges: nuclear safety and environmental protection. Russia was encouraged to contact and consult with the Western European Union (WEU) and the OSCE (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on security issues. The Commonwealth of Independent States was seen as a possible area of the EU-Russia interaction. On the one hand, in this 1995 Madrid Strategy, Russian political reforms, security issues and foreign policy dialogue occupied an equal place with economic cooperation. On the other hand, as Finnish researcher Hiski Haukkala fairly points out, „…actual measures and channels through which Russia’s constructive participation could take place are absent from the document.” (Haukkala 2003: 12)
The Action Plan for Russia adopted in May 1996 put some flesh on these areas of cooperation although its scope was limited again by the absence of specific policy instruments and budget lines. (Gover 2000: 80) In practice, EU policy towards Russia remained the same indeed, based on the technical provisions of economic cooperation through TACIS.
The Amsterdam Treaty signed by the leaders of the European Union in June 1997 provided for an extension of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU Member States. It established a new policy instrument: the EU members would adopt “common strategies” which would commit them to co-operate on policy towards particular areas or countries. The first such strategy to be elaborated was „the Common Strategy of the European Union on Russia” (CSR) approved at the Cologne European Council in June 1999. It raised the profile of political and security-related aspects of relationship with Russia. The reason for this is stated at the outset of the document: a need to firmly anchor Russia „…in a united Europe free of new dividing lines.”
In general, the Strategy sets out four areas of action: 1. Consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and public institutions; 2. Integration of Russia into a common European economic and social space; 3. Stability and security; 4. Common challenges on the European continent. The latter two areas are concerned with the European security and defence project.
The document argues that the EU-Russia cooperation promotes not only regional, but also global security. The Common Strategy does not exclude the possibility for the development of „joint foreign policy initiatives” and for Russian participation in Western European Union missions, just as the necessity for closer cooperation in the „new European security architecture within the framework of the OSCE” is also emphasized. This invitation is considered by F. Splidsboel-Hansen as of greater importance to Moscow. (Splitsboel-Hansen 2002: 412)
Meanwhile, there are some points for criticism. Although paying attention to Russia’s importance to „lasting peace on the continent”, the CSR failed again to develop a clear understanding of how Russia’s role could be used in practical terms. As Hiski Haukkala rightly notes, the understanding of the actual means through which Russia was expected to make this contribution remained at the level of a declaration of good intentions. (Haukkala 2003: 14) This uncertainty is often justified by the fact that the European Security and Defence Policy was in its early stages of institutionalising at the time of negotiating the CSR.
There are many issues enumerated under the title of „common challenges” in the CSR: energy policies, nuclear safety, protection of the environment, and the fight against „common threats”, such as organized crime, illegal immigration, money laundering, and illegal trafficking in people and in drugs. These themes are defined by experts as “soft” security threats. They all are derived from a conception that there is a growing interdependence between the EU and Russia. No doubt, the EU does not perceive Russia any more as a source of “hard” security threats. But the EU perception that most “soft” security threats are coming from Russia is the main imperative behind the EU wish to cooperate with Russia on these issues.
In general, both strategies obviously lack the EU certainty towards Russia in the 1990s. However, the EU initiative to adopt the Common strategy on Russia must be appreciated. Despite many talks on a need for Russia to formulate a consolidated policy in relation to the EU, the latter was the first one indeed to adopt its strategy on Russia.
The Russian government responded by elaborating the goals that it would pursue in its relations with the EU in a special document half a year later. Since Vladimir Putin, then the prime-minister of Russia and later Yeltsin’s official successor, presented the document to the Helsinki European Council in October 1999, and no other all-European policy concept has been adopted in following four years, „Medium-Term Strategy for the Development of Relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union (2000–2010)” can be considered as a start of Putin’s European policy.
President Putin’s European Agenda (2000-2004)
The Medium-Term strategy has been thoroughly analysed by Russian scholar Timofei Bordachev. (Bordachev 2003: 31-61)
Generally he argues that the Strategy is formulated in such a way that it mentions practically all possible questions of interaction between Russia and the European Union in the political, economic and, partly, humanitarian areas. (Bordachev 2003: 40)
The Medium-term Strategy declares that the partnership between the two sides should be used to enhance „the positive elements of the European ...identity in economy and politics”. The Strategy defines future relations with Europe as „a strategic partnership”, and also advocates close interaction to create a "Europe without dividing lines". Meanwhile, it is clearly stated in the document that integration into the European Union is out of the question for Russia. Though the EU is seen mainly as an economic partner, there are few references to security issues.
Moscow is interested in helping to shape the Common Foreign and Security policy of the EU. This cooperation, so the Russian policy paper finds, will maintain all-European security by Europeans without isolating the USA and NATO, but without their monopoly on the continent. Thus, the need to create a counter-balance to “the NATO-centrism in Europe” will help to establish a pan-European security system, in which non-NATO member states are allowed to play a larger role. A special emphasis is also made on the role of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as the main institution of European security. According to the Strategy, Russia should work out its position on the European defence identity, and promotes some aspects of practical cooperation (peacekeeping, crisis settlement, and arms limitation and reduction).
The Medium-term Strategy is often criticised, especially in its part concerned with political and security cooperation. Timofei Bordachev thinks that the idea of „development of political and military contacts with the Western-European Union” was already outdated since the EU summit in Cologne had taken the decision the WEU was to cease to exist as an institution. He also finds that the Russian attention to the OSCE was exaggerated, and the mentioning of the task to counterbalance “the NATO-centrism” in Europe caused a negative reaction in the West. (Bordachev 2003: 42) Dmitry Danilov believes that the Strategy failed to take any serious position on the emerging ESDP. (Danilov 2001: 107) Hiski Haukkala shares his opinion, considering references to security issues as the most vague ones. (Haukkala 2003: 15)
Such critique seems to be not fully justified. First of all, the Medium-term Strategy must be mainly perceived as a response to the Common strategy of the EU. The latter itself opened up the possibility for Russian participation in Western European Union missions, and invited Russia to cooperate on security issues within the framework of the OSCE, which was mentioned at least four times in the respective parts of the Common strategy. Russia was hardly able „to take any serious position on the emerging ESDP”, as the EU had no clear perspectives on ESDP at that time either (the decision to develop ESDP along with the Common Foreign and Security Policy was formally approved only in Helsinki, where Vladimir Putin introduced the Medium term Strategy). Finally, the Russian mentioning of the task to overcome “the NATO-centrism” (with a special reservation that it does not exclude the US and NATO from playing a role in European security construction) perfectly matched the EU own ambitions „…to have an autonomous capacity to take decisions and, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to launch and then to conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises.”
The Russian government’s position on the role of security in the EU-Russia cooperation is also reflected in two other core documents: the National Security Concept of the Russian Federation (January 2000) and the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russia Federation (June 2000). The former defines internal security threats, which are similar to EU concerns and, can be referred again to “soft” security challenges: Russian stagnating economy, ecological problems and poverty, while in the latter partnership with the European Union comes as the third priority, after mentioning cooperation within the CIS and stressing the role of the OSCE. According to the National Security Concept, Russia intends to cooperate with international partners including the EU on the following issues: the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the fight against organized crime and the drugs trade, the prevention and settlement of regional conflicts, the resolution of ecological problems, and the provision of nuclear safety. As Hiski Haukkala points out, „these are all areas of overlapping interest with the EU.” (Haukkala 2003: 16)
Since that time, Russia has not adopted any other separate document on European agenda. However, the annual President’s message to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation can be considered as an interesting source reflecting the dynamics of Russian policy towards Europe. If the foreign policy was not mentioned at all in the 2000 address, one year later Vladimir Putin emphasized that the course of integration with Europe was becoming one of the key directions of Russian foreign policy. At the same time Russian relations with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States remained the major goal of Russian foreign policy. Most interesting that the President did not mention the USA even once in this part of his speech.
In the 2002 address the order of priorities did not alter much: the CIS was defined as the core direction of foreign policy, while on the European direction the main task was to form a single economic space. However, characterizing the need to provide strategic stability in the world and to build a new security system, the President stressed the importance of continual dialogue with the USA on these issues as well as of the work on changing the relations with NATO.
In 2003 the priority was already given to the USA-Russia cooperation in the war against the international terrorism. Then Vladimir Putin underlined the significance of relations in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Only in the third turn, the President characterized rapprochement and integration with Europe as a historical choice of Russia, which would be, however, a long and hard process. In the long run Russia wanted to achieve a decision on free movement of people between Russia and the EU (free visa regime) and to form a single economic space. Thus, the Russian President clearly demarcated the roles of Russian potential associates: while the USA became a major strategic ally, the EU was seen as an important partner in the fields of economic interaction and people contacts. Such approach was confirmed in the 2004 address.
The addresses reflect the real state of affairs. These sways in Putin’s foreign policy as well as in its European component can be understood only in a broader context of world politics. Namely, the dynamics of Russian relations with the USA and NATO explains to some extent the European policy of Russia. After the September 11th, and the Russia's full support given to the USA in the war against international terrorism, there was a widespread impression that the relations with the United States were at the top of the list in Russian foreign policy, and the relations with the EU were cooling down.
On the one hand, it would be a simplification to put both relations (with Europe and the USA) in a direct interdependence from one another. It was true for the 1990s to regard the EU as a counterbalance to Russia’s uneasy relation with the USA and US-led NATO. After 1999, however, Russia has stopped to play off Europe against the USA and given up the concept of multipolarity. According to Timofei Bordachev, Putin’s so-called foreign policy „revolution” is characterised by „the desire of the new Kremlin administration to use the policy of rapprochement with the West for obtaining maximum economic gains, such as the recognition of Russia’s market economy status, or its accession, on beneficial terms, to the World Trade Organisation.” (Bordachev 2003: 32-33)
On the other hand, turning to the strategic and security aspects of cooperation specifically, there has been much progress indeed in the USA-Russia cooperation over the last three years. The countries have become the closest allies in the antiterrorist coalition. At the same time there was also a fundamental change in NATO-Russia relations, which had been spoiled during the Kosovo crisis. At the Rome Summit (28th May 2002) the Heads of State and Government of the member states of NATO and the Russian Federation signed a Declaration „NATO-Russia Relations: a New Quality”, establishing a new body, the NATO-Russia Council. It had become the third joint organ in NATO-Russia cooperation since 1992. These achievements have left an impression there was a standstill in EU-Russia relations, particularly in terms of the security and defence cooperation. Meanwhile, a responsibility for this state of affairs rests largely on the EU. As Russian expert Oleg Barabanov rightly points out, „The European defence structures have been less motivated to have a dialogue with Russia than NATO”. For example, despite many respective initiatives in the 1990s they have not finalised in signing any institutional agreement between Russia and the Western European Union. (Barabanov 2000: 98)
In connection with the last point, it is worth analysing if any progress on EU-Russia security and defence cooperation has been achieved within a new format of CFSP/ESDP, institutionalised in Cologne and Helsinki in 1999.
EU-Russia Interaction within the CFSP/ESDP Framework: beyond the Documents
As Mark Webber precisely points out, „the ability to see the importance of Russia and the ability to act upon it are, however, two different things. The practical involvement of Russia in ESDP is replete with difficulties.” (Webber 2001: 412)
Having established the formal framework for security and defence dialogue, it was time to get down to work. While elaborating implementation of the initiatives concerned with EU-Russia interaction on common foreign policy, defence and security, four levels should be considered:
Further political dialogue regarding CFSP/ESDP;
EU-Russia consolidated foreign policy;
Practical EU-Russia cooperation on “hard” security/military matters;
Joint work on “soft” security issues.
Taking political dialogue first, one can say that prospects of EU-Russia political and security interaction have been regularly addressed by European Councils and EU-Russia summits. The European Councils in Helsinki (December 1999) and Feira (June 2000) concluded that Russia „may be invited to take part in EU-led operations.” At the Nice European Council in December 2000 Russia was offered (along with Ukraine and Canada) a framework of consultation with the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PSC) on matters relating to ESDP and military crisis management during the „routine phase”. During a „crisis situation”, this framework (or, alternatively, direct consultations with the Secretary-General/High Representative) would permit the sharing of views and the consideration of possible participation by Russia in a crisis-management operation. Should such participation materialise, then Russia would have the right to appoint officers to the EU Planning Staff and to attend the Committee of Contributors „with the same rights and obligations as the other participating states.” (Webber 2001: 416-417)
As it was mentioned above, the European Security Strategy was adopted at the Brussels European Council in December 2003. The EU recognises the success of its „concerted efforts with the US, Russia, NATO and other international partners” in providing the stability of the Balkans. The need for cooperative actions by the EU, the USA, the UN and Russia is required for assistance to the Israelis and the Palestinians in resolving the Arab/Israeli conflict. Russia is mentioned once again in the final part devoting to work with partners: „progress towards a strategic partnership rests on respect for common values”. Meanwhile, Russia is missed in the Introduction section, which recognised a crucial role of the United States in European integration and European security, in particular through NATO. More important, cooperation with Russia is not included either in the part regarding policy implications for Europe. „The EU-NATO permanent arrangements” seems to be enough to „enhance the operational capability of the EU and provide the framework for the strategic partnership between the two organisations in crisis management.” The fact of Russia’s inclusion in broad declarative statements means that the EU still sees Russia’s role and involvement in security dialogue more in terms of political importance rather than concrete operational or strategic capabilities. In this sense, the EU prefers to rely on the USA and NATO.
Since 1999, EU–Russia summits have also considered the prospects of EU-Russia cooperation within the ESDP framework. The Moscow summit in May 2000 confirmed the EU invitation made for Russia to participate in future crisis management operations, and the following summit in Paris in October 2000 issued a joint declaration on strengthening dialogue and cooperation on political and security matters in Europe. It contained a commitment to „…institute specific consultations on security and defence matters at the appropriate level and in the appropriate format.”
The 2001 Summits made a decision to hold monthly meetings between the EU Political and Security Committee (COPS) or its Chairman and Russia, including the Ambassador level. In addition, monthly meetings will be held between the EU Political and Security Committee Troika and Russia in order to take stock of consultations on crisis prevention and management. The EU also decided to „inform Russia on developments in ESDP matters”, and Russia, in its turn, suggested it would „inform the EU on the development of its (own) security and defence policy.”
The ninth EU-Russia Summit in Moscow (May 2002) approved already the third declaration on further practical steps in developing political dialogue and cooperation on crisis management and security matters. However, if we don’t take into account the repeated declarative and broad statements, Russian practical involvement was cautiously marked by the word “possible”. In particular, the EU acknowledged „possible use by the EU of Russian long-haul air transportation”, and „possible Russian participation in the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The St. Petersburg EU-Russia Summit (May 2003) launched a new initiative: to creating in the long term a common economic space, a common space of freedom security and justice, a space of co-operation in the field of external security, as well as a space of research and education, including cultural aspects. The next Summit in Rome (November 2003) reaffirmed the creation of the four “common spaces”, and adopted the fourth declaration on strengthening dialogue and cooperation on political and security matters. The fight against terrorism and the commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were recognised cornerstones of cooperation in the field of security. In general, the strategy includes the traditional set of promises: to strengthen dialogue on non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control; to promote experts’ exchange of views on CFSP/ESDP, European Security Strategy, Russia’s foreign policy and security strategy; to work towards a joint approach in the field of crisis management.
Thus, since 2000 Russia and the European Union have developed a political dialogue on foreign policy, security and defence matters within the network of permanent institutions. To what extent the willingness to cooperate on CFSP/ESDP has been materialised?
As far as common foreign policy is concerned, undoubtedly, terrorism was a central concern in EU-Russia interaction on foreign matters. After the terrorist attacks in the US in September 2001, the theme has acquired a particular significance in the EU-Russian context. Though the launch of military campaign in Afghanistan provoked some disputes in Europe, nevertheless Russia and the EU have issues numerous declarations and joint statements backing the fight against terrorism.
The Iraq war proved to be a more complicated issue. The initial opposition of Russia, France and Germany to the US-British decision on military campaign in Iraq was perceived by some experts as a common European will aimed to limit the global power of the USA. However, the coalition turned fragile. Moreover, the war became so divisive issue for many old and new members of the EU that one could hardly speak about the European common foreign policy. The continental troika can not be considered as a sample of EU-Russia interaction on foreign matters.
Thus, the practical cooperation in this field is fairly limited.
EU-Russia cooperation on “hard” security/military matters is even more dreamlike. Mark Webber (his paper contains the best account on this issue) characterises Russian involvement in military cooperation as “ambiguously helpful”. (Webber 2001: 417)
Russia potentially has a military capability that could fill some of the gaps in the projected European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF). They include heavy air-lift and satellite resources. These are assets, which the USA normally provides, and this symbolises the over-dependence on the Americans. Mark Webber thinks that availability of some Russian resources might seem attractive since Russia possesses a number of Antonov and Ilyushin transport aircrafts and long-established satellite reconnaissance and navigation programmes. The Russian armed forces also possess considerable experience in deploying and maintaining peacekeeping personnel in the field of operation. (Webber 2001: 418)
With regard to the armed forces, the European Union and Russia have implemented some practical cooperation in the context of the EU Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russia has also been invited by the EU to be involved in the active phase of the joint EU-NATO crisis management exercise CME/CMX 03. However, Russian involvement in the Balkans (namely in Kosovo) does not allow to expect that Russia’s material contribution to peacekeeping will be substantial. For example, at the end of 2000 Russia was contributing some 3,600 troops to the 42,500-strong KFOR, and in early 2000 it was contributing some 1,300 to the 24,500-strong SFOR. (Webber 2001: 418) Moreover, one should remember that the capabilities and involvement of European reaction force itself is now quite limited.
As far as the satellite resources are concerned, Russia has already since 1995 periodically supplied the WEU’s Torrejon Satellite Centre on a commercial basis and the Russian GLONASS system is one of only two current global satellite navigation systems (the other is the American GPS). These resources of the WEU’s Centre are now sufficient to cope with the sorts of reconnaissance/intelligence tasks related to Petersburg-type missions. Any additional needs are likely to be satisfied by American satellites. As for satellite navigation, GLONASS and GPS are controlled by the military authorities in Russia and the US respectively. It is obvious that any ERRF operation which required satellite navigation assistance would be happier with recourse to American rather than Russian oversight. By 2008 the EU intends to establish its own Galileo satellite navigation system. (Webber 2001: 419-420)
Finally, the prospect of using Russian heavy air-lift is also very slim. As Mark Webber argues, for at least the next decade EU heavy-lift capabilities will remain limited and certainly insufficient to Kosovo-type operations. In this light, some recourse to Russian heavy-lift ought to be useful if a potential ESDP mission required it. During the mid 1990s negotiations were already launched between the WEU and Russia on Russian large-capacity air transport resources. However, nothing came of these talks. And it is unlikely that some progress on the issue will be made in coming years, bearing in mind the declining reliability and serviceability of the Russian air force. (Webber 2001: 421) Besides it, Ukraine actively offers its heavy air-lift, and some dialogue between Ukraine and the EU has occurred. As Ukraine has a clearer vision of its relationship with NATO (namely, a wish to join this organisation), the EU seems to be more relaxed in discussing military cooperation with Ukraine rather than Russia.
Joint work on “soft” security issues has not extended beyond the declarations either despite this field provokes the most concerns of the European Union. There is also a particular interest from the Russian side to cooperate on these issues, especially in the part dealing with visa regime. The solving of Kalinigrad issue may become the best sample to demonstrate how different and even conflicting the EU and Russian approaches are yet.
On the eve of EU enlargement, the EU-Russia consultations on the issue of Kaliningrad considerably intensified. It was due to the fact that Russia and the EU had to find a practical solution for many problems of the Kalinigrad region in connection with EU enlargement. The most acute problem dealt with the transit visa regime for the Russians travelling to and from Kaliningrad, which was to come into force after EU enlargement. Despite the EU-Russia intensive schedule of consultations and high ranking meetings, and the exchange of a number of documents, having taken place during the Swedish Presidency (the first half of 2001), the Kaliningrad issue had not been fully resolved by the end of 2001.
In 2002, the relationship between Russia and the EU was burdened indeed by this problem of the transit visa ruling. Though during intensive consultations with Brussels V. Putin suggested to abandon the need for visas between the EU countries and Russia altogether by the year 2006, Moscow could not prevent the EU from introducing the need for a visa obligation for Russian transit travellers after the admission of Lithuania and Poland to the Schengen zone. As German expert on Russia Alexander Rahr points out, „... in the final phase of negotiations, the arguing between V. Putin and the Danish EU Council President almost escalated to a major row.”
Finally, a temporary compromise was reached at the EU-Russia Summit in Brussels in November 2002. According to the Joint Statements, it was agreed that Russian train travellers between Russia and Kaliningrad would not require a visa, but still need the so called Facilitated Transit Document. The scheme came into force on 1st July 2003.
Obviously this scheme is a temporary measure: as soon as Lithuania and Poland become members of the Schengen Agreement, Russian travellers will need a Schengen visa for travel to Kaliningrad. As it was mentioned above, the EU obviously treats Russia as a “soft” security threat (such troubles as organized crime, illegal immigration, money laundering, and illegal trafficking in people and in drugs can come from Russia). As a response, the EU tries to protect itself by enhancing the measures of border control and restricting people movement from the former countries of the Soviet Union. Russia’s aim is absolutely opposite - to make easier Kaliningrad-Russia connection, and generally visa regime with the EU. A radical solution to the problem could be achieved if Russia would join the Schengen Agreement. The point has been stressed few times by V. Putin. However, it is unlikely the EU will reach an agreement on repealing the visa rules for Russian nationals. The EU seems to be more interested in unilateral repeal of the visa requirements for nationals of the EU for visits to Russia. (Khudoley 2003: 19)
Thus, little progress on this issue has been made so far. Russia is always criticised for giving priority to bilateral relations with particular countries of the EU instead of dealing with the whole EU. Meanwhile, the way of bilateral agreements is often more productive. Recently Russia, France and Italy have agreed on simplification of the visa procedure for Russian nationals visiting these EU countries. The decision may give a new impetus for Russia’s dialogue with Brussels on visa matters.
Talking about the EU-Russia cooperation on “soft” security issues, one should mention another aspect of this interaction: the Northern Dimension Initiative. The Northern Dimension was first recognised EU-wide at the Luxembourg European Council in December 1997, but it acquired a practical dimension at the time of the Finnish EU Presidency (the second half of 1999). The Helsinki European Council in December - that year invited the Commission to prepare an Action Plan, and consequently, the Feira European Council in June 2000 adopted the ,Action Plan for the Northern Dimension in the external and cross-border policies of the European Union’. The Northern Dimension aims at addressing the special regional development challenges of northern Europe, including “soft” security threats (environmental challenges problems with nuclear waste and waste water management). North West Russia must be also involved in this cooperation.
As many experts point out, this programme has largely remained a Finnish undertaking, and deals with some measures to coordinate the ongoing projects, rather than of some dedicated resources released in order to carry out specific practical tasks. Besides the objective difficulties within the EU (e.g. Southern European countries are much concerned about the risk of EU resources being redistributed in favour of some Northern European countries), in Russia the Northern Dimension likewise has not always been adequately received. As Konstantin Khudoley notes, „some federal officials maintain that the Northern Dimension programme has been designed to „split” Russia.” (Khudoley 2003: 23) The outcomes of EU-Russia interaction in the framework of the Northern Dimension programme are also relatively modest.
Thus, there is an apparent disproportion between the intensity of EU-Russia dialogue regarding the CFSP/ESDP cooperation, and the practical implementation of the approved documents.
Difficulties and challenges of ESDP-Russia cooperation
For the full understanding of the issue, it is quite important to consider the following questions: What was beyond the EU invitation made for Russia to cooperate on security and defence issues? Why is practical interaction accompanied by so many difficulties and challenges?
According to H. Haukkala, the EU had strong concerns that Russia – due to a feeling of being excluded – might reject the project of transition towards Western models of economy and society, and revert to its old authoritarian and autocratic ways. Thus, the old Russia „…was-and still is – seen as the most pressing potential security threat for the European Union”. (Haukkala 2003: 12) H. Haukkala argues that the EU in its policy towards Russia faces the basic dilemma: „how to ensure the successful transition and gradual integration of Russian into “Europe” while keeping it simultaneously at arm’s length from the EU, in other words, how to strike the right balance between inclusion and exclusion.” (Haukkala 2003: 12) To sum up, „the agendas that the EU and Russia bring to the table do not coincide. The EU wants to safeguard security and stability on its doorstep, whereas Russia wants to reacquire great power status...For Russia, ESDP is seen as an avenue through which it can enhance its position and capabilities as a security actor of the first order in the emerging European security architecture.” (Haukkala 2003: 16-17)
Such explanation seems to be partly outdated. It is true that the EU was constantly reminded about the inclusion/exclusion dilemma with regard to Russia in the 1990s so far as Yeltsin’s foreign policy was primarily aimed at inclusion and integration into the West. The question if Russia could be a member of the EU was seriously debated by both sides from time to time. The EU’s fear of the Russia’s revert from the transition without a particular encouragement and promises, and the Russian demands for inclusion and special treatment have formed to much extent a particular model of EU-Russia cooperation: broad statements, confirmations and declarations stressing Russia’s importance for the EU, but the lack of practical implementation. Undoubtedly, the traditions of Brussels and Moscow bureaucracy also shaped much this model of communication.
However, since V. Putin has focused on independence from the West and interaction with it, exclusion/inclusion dilemma has lost its significance. Russia does not seek any more the full inclusion in the EU, it is considered to be unrealistic and, more importantly, not desirable. Meanwhile, Russia wants to interact in the fields of common interest, and where both sides could benefit from such cooperation. Russia has lost an interest in any formal and declarative statements (which earlier served “to please” Russia), and even is annoyed by such model. The Russian leadership wants to move to a practical stage, even if the common projects would not be so global.
Besides the inclusion/exclusion dilemma, the EU caution in regard to Russia’s involvement in ESDP is often explained by the EU suspicion that Russia wrongly understood ESDP initiative: to complement, and by no means to undermine NATO. European leaders stressed this position many times. For instance, German Chancellor G. Schröder stated in April 2001 during a summit meeting with V. Putin that European security and more specifically crisis-management could „only be discussed within the framework of NATO.” (Webber 2001: 423) At the same time, the EU finds hard to accept that Russia wants ESDP to be authorised by the UN and the OSCE. In this case, the EU demands more autonomy for ESDP. Finally, the EU is not sure if Russia should participate in decision-making if ESDP operations take place. (Webber 2001: 422-423)
These concerns may be also exaggerated. Whereas Russia restored relations with NATO in 2002, the EU fears of NATO discontent with Russia’s practical involvement in ESDP should not have much significance. Moreover, it seems that the EU had to reaffirm its reliance on NATO foremost for the USA (and not for Russia) because the American leadership was not pleased with the plans for the construction of EU military forces.
As far as Russia’s ambitions to restore its global status by means of ESDP are concerned, they are not fully true either. Russia has given up competing for recognition of its global status in strategic and geopolitical terms. Putin realized from the very beginning that Russia’s positions in the world would depend on the state of the Russian economy, and in this regard much work must be done. However, Russia obviously tends to cooperate with the global powers on security issues, and in the first place with the USA, for the latter has weight, influence, and capabilities. As German Prof. Hannes Adomeit points out, for Russia „…the relationship with the United States is too important to be jeopardised by a „Europe first” policy. Russia is likely to regard ESDP and the European Rapid Reaction Force as marginal at best, and I think it is right to do so.” (Adomeit 2003)
Thus, the reasons why EU-Russia cooperation on security and defence matters has not acquired a distinct practical dimension rest on both sides. Despite the intensive political dialogue on ESDP, the EU and Russia have had persistent problems in fulfilling this cooperation.
Conclusions and eventual prospects
EU–Russia interaction within the ESDP framework is fairly limited. Despite the intensive schedule of consultations at EU-Russia summits, and signing joint documents and declarations, this formal framework has not been supplemented by practical steps. Russia was invited by the EU to participate in the active phase of the joint EU-NATO crisis management exercise; the invitation had more symbolic rather than practical significance. The same can be referred to Russian limited involvement in the EU Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The EU and Russia’s ideas on “soft” security cooperation are not compatible at all: while Russia wants to simplify or even repeal visa regime between the EU and Russia, the European Union perceives it as the main way of controlling “soft” security threats, possibly coming from Russia. This spirit of distrust considerably slows down cooperation on other “soft” security-related projects: the Northern Dimension initiative, and the Kaliningrad issue. Finally, the EU could potentially use some Russian military capabilities, but it is not urgent, since the EU could rely on the US-resources, and since the EU is not sure yet when and in what situations it will need them. There are several factors, which explain the problems the EU and Russia have faced in the development of closer ties in ESDP-related activities:
- Problems within the ESDP project itself. There is a wide spread scepticism about effectiveness of separate European military forces, and more importantly, a unity of the EU countries to operate independently of the United States and NATO. The debates on the European Security Strategy confirmed the lack of common political will among fifteen members of the EU. The disunity among twenty-five members might even increase. In this light, Russia’s practical involvement in ESDP is obviously not a task of the first order for the European Union. At this stage of ESDP development, it seems enough for the EU to underline political importance of Russia in constructing European security architecture in a number of documents rather than to involve Russia in any joint operational projects.
- Russia’s own perception of ESDP. It is unlikely that Russia will throw its weight behind a project with an uncertain trajectory of development. The problems in making ESDP operational have diminished Russia’s interest towards the whole project. It has become evident to Moscow that Europe has a long way to go to an independent security and defence policies. On security issues Russia prefers to deal with the USA rather than with the EU.
Considering prospects of EU-Russia cooperation within the ESDP framework, one should mention that the year of 2004 is of great significance for further development. Basically two events define this importance: the EU enlargement in May 2004, and a task to adopt a new Strategy on Russia.
Taking the enlargement first, Russian research works generally assess economic consequences of EU enlargement as quite negative for Russia, and some Western experts warn that the EU new members might seek to make EU’s Russia policy „less permissive” in the future.(Haukkala 2003: 8) All these considerations do not give many hopes that ten newcomers are able to give an impetus to EU-Russia cooperation in general, and with regard to ESDP in particular. In addition, the enlargement has resulted in an emergence of an “eastern dimension” where the new eastern neighbours, in the first place, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine will play a prominent role. Poland is the most active proponent of a distinct policy for this “eastern dimension”. Though Russia could be formally referred to the “eastern dimension”, any practical projects of cooperation can be more feasible and realistic for three former smaller-sized Soviet republics than for Russia.
Turning to a new EU Strategy on Russia, which must be adopted in coming months, its tone and content may define future framework of EU-Russia cooperation. Will the Strategy be a new declaration, a set of broad statements, covering all possible aspects of interaction? Or will it make the relationship more effective by adopting a “results-oriented” (even if small sized) projects? If the new Strategy brings quite radical changes in understanding of a nature of EU-Russia further interaction, Russia will have to reconsider its „Medium-Term Strategy” in order to make it corresponding to the EU Strategy (though the Russian document on EU policy expires only in 2010). In case of adopting practically-oriented Strategies, it will be also interesting to look if there will be any mention of cooperation on ESDP for it has been one of the most practically undeveloped projects in EU-Russia interaction so far.
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Copyright (c) 2004 Larissa Kuzmitcheva
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