External Publications

July 18, 2011

A new start for Russian-EU Security Policy

The Weimar Triangle, Russia and the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood

The improvement in security policy cooperation between
Russia and the USA since 2009, together with the extensive
withdrawal of the USA from the post-Soviet region, has lead
to an intensification in the security policy dialogue between Russia
and the EU. As a consequence, the conflicts in the post-Soviet states
have shifted into the focus of attention.


In particular, it is the states of the Weimar Triangle, Germany, France and Poland, that are pursuing a security policy dialogue with Russia. At present, Moscow appears willing to make concessions in this area. Following a German-Russian summit meeting in Meseberg in 2010, the conflict over Transnistria has been declared a test case for the ability of Russia and the EU to resolve conflicts. At a trilateral summit between Germany, France and Russia in the autumn of the same year, a French proposal for the intensification of the security dialogue with Russia was explored. Within the framework of the Weimar Triangle there have also been an increasing number of meetings at the Foreign Minister and State Secretary level to discuss the issue of relations with the Eastern neighbourhood.

The improvement in the climate of relations between the EU and Russia is currently based on a set of mutual interests covering international policy issues (Afghanistan, Iran) shared by both Russia and the “West”. At the same time, Russia’s willingness to cooperate has grown as a result of the negative effects of the global financial crisis and the recognition that economic modernization can only be achieved with the help of the EU. Nevertheless, there has not been a fundamental shift in Russian foreign policy and the contradictions between Russia and the EU in respect of the post-Soviet states will continue to grow in the medium term. While the necessity for intervention in the Eastern neighbourhood has increased for Brussels as a result of its eastern expansion and the Russian-Georgian war, from a Russian perspective, a continuation of the conflict in the common neighbourhood tends to be to its advantage.

As Moscow increasingly sees the EU as a rival in this region, a solution to the post-Soviet conflicts is considered disadvantageous. Above all, the fear in Russia is that such a development would accelerate the integration of these states into the EU. While there currently is an overlap of interests between Russia and the “West” in respect of Afghanistan and Iran, this cannot be transferred to relations to the post-Soviet states. With its proposal for a new security treaty for Europe and participation in the Meseberg Memorandum, Russia is looking to exert stronger influence on security policy decisions in Europe. In contrast, Germany and other EU member states are primarily interested in finding a compromise with Russia in order to bring about a solution to the post-Soviet conflicts. Within the EU, Germany and Poland are currently the central states pursuing the formulation of Ostpolitik. The Weimar Triangle can make an important contribution to the profile of the EU’s Ostpolitik, trust building, and a rapprochement between German and Polish positions (in consultation with France) on relations with Russia and other post-Soviet states.

Bibliographic data

Genshagener Papiere 7, July 2011, 25 pages