Mixed Bag for Russia-EU Relations

It looks like the summit meeting of EU foreign minsiters was something of a mixed bag for Russia-EU relations. On the one hand, Lithuania blocked a memorandum calling for the negotiation of a new cooperation agreement to replace the current one, which dates back to 1994. Its unmet demands ranged from the purely bilateral (repairing an oil pipeline to a Lithuanian refinery) to the more generalized trade-off variety that I’ll probably soon regret having declared obsolete (a commitment to peacefully resolve the frozen conflicts in Georgia and other former USSR territories). Moscow Times has a good overview here, and Kommersant has some more depth here.

On the other hand, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov did emerge from a sideline meeting with Javier Solana with a formal agreement for Russia’s participation in the EUFOR Chad mission, as well as the promise of a broader cooperative framework for future Russia-EU crisis management and peacekeeping operations.

Kommersant suggests that the EU as a strategic partner has diminished in importance for Moscow since 2006, when Poland blocked a renegotiation of the Cooperation Agreement due to a meat-embargo that has since been resolved.But it would be surprising if continued strategic cooperation of the sort happening in Chad doesn’t move the political lines. With that in mind, there’s also speculation that Lithuania’s objections could be lifted in time for the EU-Russia summit two months from now. And while a war in Georia will obviously complicate matters, I’d wager that a lot probably depends on how fast Russia’s pipeline repair crews operate.