Leaked EU documents reveal fears of Russia’s return to ‘power politics’

Russia is returning to “power politics” and European Union relations have “strongly deteriorated” as a result, according to a leaked document to be discussed by EU ministers on Monday. 

US claims that Moscow is building up its forces to carry out another invasion of Ukraine are likely to be discussed in Brussels, as well as the Strategic Compass document.

The Strategic Compass is the closest thing the EU could have to a military doctrine and akin to NATO’s "Strategic Concept" that sets out alliance goals.  It sets out political guidance to inform foreign and defence policy for the next five to ten years. 

“Russia, the EU’s largest neighbour, remains an important global actor who attempts to widen its geopolitical sphere of influence based mostly on a zero-sum logic,” said a draft of the Strategic Compass document seen by the Telegraph.

“The return to power politics leads major countries to argue in terms of historical rights and zones of influence, rather than adhering to internationally agreed rules and principles and uniting to promote international peace and security,” the document explained. 

“The impact of a strongly deteriorated relationship with Russia is particularly severe."

Hybrid tactics such as cyberattacks and disinformation are now "part of the reality in dealing with Russia," according to the document. 

“It interferes actively through hybrid tactics, compromising the stability of countries and their democratic processes. […] Its actions in our common neighbourhood and in other theatres contradict the EU’s vision of the world and its interests.” 

It said the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support to breakaway Donbass region of Ukraine was a “watershed” in EU relations.

Tensions have been further exacerbated by Valdimir Putin’s support for Aleksander Lukashenko, who has been pushing Iraqi migrants to the EU borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. 

Despite the criticism, however, the document says the EU plans to engage with Moscow on some issues such as climate change, “while pushing back aggressive acts and constraining its capacity to undermine the EU’s interests.”

Separately, the French and Russian foreign and defence ministers are meeting today in Paris in a bid to repair damaged diplomatic relations.

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