The result of the referendum has been received in Russia as a manifestation of a crisis, both in the EU as an institution, and in the West as a political community.
The Kremlin used the forum in Petersburg to conduct a offensive with a view to strengthening the trend in Europe towards normalising relations with Russia.
Contrary to previous announcements, Gazprom has not altered its strategy, and still treats Europe as its key market.
Moscow is seeking to demonstrate that opponents of the policy of sanctions within the EU can count on economic and political benefits.
The very recognition of the Eurasian Union as a party to the talks by the EU would set a precedent with significant consequences for European security.
A precedent: the EU recognises the right of Russia to influence the shape of EU relations with the countries of the former USSR.
The Kremlin’s confrontational attitude towards the West means that we cannot expect the sanctions and the economic effects of the deterioration of Russia’s image to alleviate its political course in the short term.
The 31st Russia-EU summit held on 4–5 June in Yekaterinburg has been added to the list of those which produce barely any outcome. The parties signed only one technical document – on combating the so-called “precursors” used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs. Contrary to earlier announcements, the agreement on visa liberalisation was not signed.
11 September saw the publication of a decree by President Vladimir Putin concerning “measures to protect the interests of Russia in respect to the conduct of foreign economic activity by Russian legal entities”. This document covers part-state-owned joint-stock companies which are listed as strategic enterprises, and the companies dependent on them.
On 4 September, the European Commission announced the initiation of an antitrust investigation against Gazprom. The primary complaint relates to the abuse of its dominant position on the gas market, mainly in Central Europe, by means of (1) limiting the freedom of movement of gas between EU member states, (2) preventing attempts to diversify gas supplies to EU countries, and (3) imposing unfair prices on contractors.