The development of relations between the European Union and Russia has taken place in fits and starts and has experienced several ups and downs. It is worth bearing in mind in the analytical narrative that follows that the pendulum swing between phases of optimism and even acute crises and pessimism can only be partially explained by the developments in the relations between the two. This is because the political and institutional development of their relations has not taken place in a vacuum. On the one hand, they have been built upon the legacy and tradition of interaction between the then European Community and the Soviet Union (see Pinder 1991). On the other hand, they have been predicated upon the wider and constantly evolving post–Cold War order both on the global and European levels. In fact, the analysis looks at how the EU has sought to lock Russia into highly institutionalized, indeed post-sovereign arrangements, with a view to creating an essentially unipolar Europe based on the EU’s liberal norms and values (Aalto 2006; Haukkala 2010) and Russia’s evolving responses to that project. This chapter traces and discusses these themes by providing an overview of the political and institutional development of relations between the EU and Russia. The emphasis in the analysis is placed on the post–Cold War era, but a brief historical narrative of relations between the European Community and the Soviet Union is also provided, as it is useful in terms of setting the scene – and to a certain extent also the subsequent tone – for the developments that have followed.
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