Edition: Lublin 2010
The article investigates the evolution of the EU relations with the Russian Federation before and after the 2004 enlargement. By comparing the approach of the EU in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, the author finds that there has been a substantial quantitative and qualitative change in the bilateral relations with Russia. This change is a direct result of three important factors. Firstly, the physical extension of the European Union’s border to the East has made the EU face a new set of problems (visa issues, transit, border control) demanding a closer and a more intense cooperation with the Russian Federation. It has also forced the EU to differentiate its relations with other new EU neighbours such as Ukraine and Belarus. Secondly, the accession of new member states from Central Europe has brought new sensitivities into the EU and a strong lobbying group demanding a more direct EU involvement in its Eastern neighborhood and a more coherent policy toward Russia. Thirdly, the aggravation of Russia’s foreign policy rhetoric and its actions undertaken in the post-Soviet space in the years 2004-2009 has made all EU member states more aware of the necessity to find common ground in their dealing with Russia. All these factors have contributed to a shift in the EU policy towards the Russian Federation after 2004 characterized mainly by a more realistic approach and attempts to counteract the Russian “divide et impera” tactics based on breaking up the European solidarity.