(BEAR Network) This policy memo explores the past experiences of the European Union in dealing with Russia’s
overwhelming presence in secessionist conflicts. The EU has sought economic and political stability – it has addressed the problems of clientelism, isolation, and dependency, and is supposedly eager to invest
in reform-induced conflict management which ideally could show that there is an alternative to
unquestionable allegiance. Engagement without recognition could be understood either from a
democratic governance perspective, or it can be seen as a balancing act against Russian dominance; still
the main question remains: How to design an EU policy approach that satisfies the promise of
engagement in the context of non-recognition, and that would be equally endorsed by the EU, parent
states, and de facto states? This requires a combination of de-isolation strategies to be linked with
economic incentives that cannot contradict measures stipulated in parent states’ anti-secessionist
legislations. Since de facto states are strictly leaning on their self-determination claims, parent states are
keen on restoring law and order in their breakaway regions no matter how feasible this may look.
Furthermore, the EU, with its complex policymaking style, is often paralysed in finding common positions.
These aspects considered, policy makers are faced with a mammoth task.
Read More © BEAR Policy Conference (“Bridging the EU and Russia,” McGill University, May 4-18, 2021)