EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2015

European security issues

7 - Relations with Russia on protracted conflicts

Grade: C+
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 2/10
Total 9/20
Scorecard 2010/11: C+ (10/20)
Scorecard 2012: C+ (10/20)
Scorecard 2013: C+ (10/20)
Scorecard 2014: C (8/20)

Tensions continue in the breakaway territories in the eastern neighbourhood, with some viewing Crimea as a useful precedent. 

No progress was made in 2014 on the resolution of protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet space. The unrecognised territories welcomed Russia’s annexation of Crimea, viewing it as a useful precedent, and some have recognised the Donetsk and Lugansk self-proclaimed “republics” as independent states. Moreover, the fighting in eastern Ukraine has been fuelled by volunteers from several of the region’s breakaway territories.

Tensions spiked in Nagorno-Karabakh in January and August, no doubt fuelled by the Ukraine crisis, with reports of several fatal skirmishes. The Minsk Group (the OSCE conflict resolution mechanism supported by the EU) remained ineffective, mainly due to the parties’ intransigence. However, there was an uptick in talks mediated by various OSCE member states, which were primarily aimed at calming tensions: in March in The Hague, in Sochi in August (called by Putin), and in September with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Further talks are set for November in Paris. Armenia, with some reluctance, signed up to the Eurasian Union; there was dispute as to whether Karabakh was to be included.

The EU Monitoring Mission continued to observe the administrative boundary in South Ossetia, but as the mission is not allowed on the Ossetian/Russian side, it is of little effect (though symbolically important). Some in the South Ossetian de facto government talked of asking to be incorporated into Russia. The opposition candidate won Abkhazia’s presidential elections in August; in October the new president threatened to close five of six crossing-points with Georgia.

Despite the situation in Transnistria and increased Russian pressure in the form of import bans, Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU in June. Transnistria’s relations with Ukraine worsened following the annexation of Crimea. Kyiv feared that the quasi-state could be used as a staging ground for Russian and Transnistrian groups to destabilise south-western Ukraine or to carve out a corridor from eastern Ukraine to Transnistria, cutting off access to the Black Sea.