The EU, Russia and the Quest for a New European Security Bargain
Peter van Ham
November 2015
The EU, Russia and the Quest for a New European Security Bargain
Clingendael Report


This Clingendael Report argues that the European Union (EU) should construct a working relationship with Russia in order to deal with existing global security matters. The November 2015 Paris terror attacks underline the necessity of political and military cooperation with Russia to make common cause against jihadism and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The EU should ensure that its Association Agreement with Ukraine (signed but not yet ratified) will be compatible with Kiev’s commitments of free trade with Russia. The Association Agreement may need to be amended to take into account Russian (and arguably also Ukrainian) interests, both economic and political. Western political leaders should also clarify that Ukraine is unlikely to join the EU (and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO) anytime soon. The EU should unequivocally separate Russia’s two cardinal sins (annexation of Crimea and support for anti-government rebels in eastern Ukraine). Solving the crisis in eastern Ukraine is the EU’s first priority and Brussels should focus all its diplomatic energy on this issue. The Donbass region should be pacified and stabilized, preferably under a United Nations Interim Administration, as was recently the case in Kosovo. The EU should also initiate a high-level platform to discuss prospects to modify Europe’s security architecture. Finally, the EU should start an organized conversation with Russia about European norms and values.

Map 1
Map of Ukraine
Map of Ukraine

Source: Wikimedia Commons/NordNordWest

About the author

Peter van Ham is Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague (the Netherlands), and Adjunct Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges (Belgium). The author thanks Anne Bakker for her assistance in preparing this Report for publication.


Current High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Affairs Federica Mogherini visits Russian president Vladimir Putin in July 2014 (then in the position of Italian Foreign Minister).

©, 9 July 2014