Membership or Partnership: The relations of Russia and its neighbours with NATO and the EU in the Enlargement Context
Publish date: 2004-01-01
Report number: FOI-R--1364--SE
Written in: English
Russia´s relation with NATO have developed under Putin mainly in the name of fighting terrorism despite NATO enlargement to the Baltic states. There are strong obstacles to membership, e g Russia´s great power ambitions and democratic deficit. Also Russia´s relations with the EU have strengthened through trade and several agreements, but the prospect of EU membership is even slimmer due to EU standards, the present antidemocratic trend in Russia and the brutal war in Chechnya. A growing divergence of values can be observed. Belarus has worse relations with NATO and the EU than Russia because of Lukashenko´s dictatorship, anti-Western policy and the unreformed economy. Its extreme dependence on Russia makes it susceptible to Russian integration efforts, but Lukashenko´s wish to retain his power retards the process. Ukraine, by contrast, is a more suitable candidate for NATO and EU membership, chiefly because this is its proclaimed goal. However, NATO membership is unlikely as long as NATO´s relations with Russia are good. Both NATO and the EU have condemned corruption and antidemocratic tendencies under President Kuchma.Putin has supported Kuchma against his political opponents and Ukraine remains very dependent on trade with Russia. Its balancing act between the West and Russia will probably go on. The small and poor Moldova, finally, is also most dependent on Russia economically, and Russia backs a separatist regime in Transnistria. However, the reintegration of that region is the main goal of the Moldovan government, which has recently turned to the EU for support. This is an urgent task for the EU´s peacekeeping ambitions.