The EU standing strong in unity: the future relationship with Russia

Resolution submitted by: JEF Political Commission 3 – External Affairs and Global Governance
Adopted by the Federal Committee in London on 23 March 2019. Re-adopted and amended by the European Congress in Liège on 21 November 2021


Disunity and diverging interests of Member States, as well as a lack of appreciation of the gravity of the situation, has weakened the common position vis-à-vis the Russian Federation and has impacted the EU’s internal affairs and the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood. The persecution of the opposition and weakened state of democracy have further deteriorated the relationship with Russia. It is the Russian political elite and their actions, not the Russian people, that remain the key challenge for a constructive relationship. Taking into account the EU’s interest in an international order based on multilateralism and the rule of law, democratic principles, the protection of the interest of the European people and our fundamental values, JEF Europe calls for a common, clearly shaped long-term EU strategy towards Russia.

JEF Europe,

  • Acknowledging the importance of Russia in European history, and as a contributor to European culture and civilisation and a part of the European family;
  • Recognising the EU’s long-standing efforts to build a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Russia based on shared values and principles, such as democracy and the rule of law, and on common interests;
  • Condemning the reckless and illegal actions of the Russian authorities which have caused tensions between the EU and the Russian Federation and have shown that Russia is currently not a reliable or trustworthy partner;
  • Recalling the JEF Europe Resolutions “For a common European response to the crisis and transformation process in Ukraine”, “Future of the Eastern Partnership: a new European strategy for the East”, and “Combatting disinformation in the modern media landscape”;
  • Strongly condemning the illegal violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the illegal annexation of Crimea and the breach of international law by the Russian Federation;
  • Profoundly concerned by the irresponsible and provocative actions by Russian ground, air and naval forces near and within the territory of EU and NATO Member States;
  • Deeply concerned about the social and human consequences of the ongoing and frozen conflicts and disputes in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, and rejecting all forms of conflict and violence perpetrated as an expression of foreign policy;
  • Denouncing the Russian measures aimed at destabilising EaP countries through trade embargoes or the conclusion of integration treaties in separatist or breakaway regions, such as South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria and Crimea, under the misguided notion that the Russian Federation is the supposed protector of ethnic or linguistic groups outside the borders of its own state;
  • Strongly rejecting all actions by the Russian Federation in support of the authoritarian rule in Belarus and its support for the Belarusian crackdown on its own people, the oppression of calls for democracy, and prosecution and persecution of journalists, opposition leaders and activists;
  • Alarmed by the stationing of nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad exclave bordering EU Member States, violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which limits the deployment of ballistic missiles of certain range;
  • Condemning the use of Private Military Companies (PMCs), currently used by Russia as a tool to bypass International Law and exert Russian influence;
  • Concerned about the high dependency of some EU Member States on Russian oil and gas, while also noting Russia’s dependency on oil and gas exports to the EU which can serve as leverage in negotiations;
  • Emphasising that restrictive measures and sanctions by the European Union are not directed against the Russian citizens, but only against the political leadership, as well as certain individuals and enterprises connected to the Russian leadership, and that the projected impact upon Russian citizens should be minimised;
  • Denouncing the ‘golden visas and passports’ policies implemented by some Member States, undermining the economic sanctions towards Russian oligarchs, while welcoming the strong legal actions by EU institutions against such policies;
  • Deploring that Russia, with its counter-sanctions, has targeted agricultural products, further worsening the conditions of its own people with increasing food prices as a result, wrongfully blaming the European Union for the consequences;
  • Denouncing the cyber and hybrid warfare against government ministries, political parties, NGOs, electoral processes, newspapers, banks, companies, and critical infrastructure in and beyond Europe, at times resulting in material damage, and destabilisation;
  • Concerned by ever-growing restrictions on media and internet freedom, the tightening of online media control, increased disinformation campaigns and information wars, used to advance the Russian political agenda, propaganda and indoctrination practices;
  • Deploring the weakened state of democracy in the Russian Federation and furthermore condemning the persecution of activists and opposition parties and their members;
  • Noting with deep concern the financial and moral support Russia provides to extremist and nationalist anti-European parties;
  • Taking into account, with concern, Russia’s track record of obstructing international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the UN;
  • Alarmed by Russia’s constitutional amendments signed on 14 March 2020, which give precedence to national law over the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under Article 46 of the European Convention of Human Rights to respect the rulings of the Strasbourg Court;
  • Condemning the use of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as a tool serving largely Russian interests and dominance over neighbouring countries.


JEF Europe, therefore,

  1. Calls on the EU to formulate a common strategy to ensure Member States’ cohesion regarding Russia and promote its interest in the Eastern Neighbourhood in line with European principles and interests;
  2. Calls on the Member States to regard the preservation of unity as an absolute priority and to abstain from bilateral relations and agreements which could undermine the common line, even before establishing a common foreign policy;
  3. Encourages the development of peaceful interpersonal and cultural relations between EU and Russian citizens and civil society actors to maintain strong dialogue and cooperation;
  4. Calls on the EU to remain open to such a mutually beneficial relationship in line with international law and respect for the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international diplomacy and trade under the precondition that the Russian authorities meet their international, moral and legal obligations;
  5. Urges the EU, until the Russian Federation lives up to its obligations and partnership can be pursued, to remain firm and engage with Russia on a reciprocal level, rewarding positive behaviour while sanctioning illegal and aggressive actions;
  6. Demands the continuation of EU sanctions and individual sanctions against the Russian Federation, individuals and firms complicit with actions in Crimea or Donbass region so long as the Minsk II Agreement is not fully implemented by the Russian Federation;
  7. Reiterates its call for a European Defence Union as the only way forward to strengthen the EU when looking at Belarussian-Russian joint military exercises and Russian military exercises more generally;
  8. Calls on political leaders in EU Member States as well as the Russian Federation to refrain from making historically distorted analogies to the Cold War in the present-day context;
  9. Firmly supports the swift creation of a European Energy Union, specifically the interconnection of national energy networks in order to reduce considerably the dependence of individual Member States on Russia, a country that has repeatedly shown its willingness to abuse its energy reserves as political weapons;
  10. Calls for the strengthening of analytical and monitoring capabilities of Russian disinformation campaigns, such as the already existing East StratCom Task Force, and calls on the Commission to set aside adequate funding for concrete projects aimed at countering Russian disinformation within the EU and in the Eastern Partnership countries by promoting and strengthening media pluralism, media literacy and availability of factual information;
  11. Calls on the EU to provide support to projects aimed at promoting and developing high journalistic standards, freedom of the media, and unbiased and trustworthy information, including in the Russian-language in Eastern Partnership countries and Russia in order to provide Russian-speaking audiences with credible and independent sources of information;
  12. Demands the EU and its Member States to actively support independent Russian civil society activists, human rights defenders, bloggers, independent media, outspoken academics and public figures and NGOs, with a view to defend the Russian civic space and promote democratic values, fundamental freedoms and human rights in Russia and its occupied territories;
  13. Urges the immediate release of political prisoners and open and frank investigations into assassination attempts, such as the case of Alexey Navalny;
  14. Demands an immediate end to the crackdown on the political opposition in Russia, including the banning of candidates from participation in elections, such as in the 2021 Duma elections, arrests of protestors, closure of political offices, raids on the homes of civil society activists, and the labeling of NGOs as foreign agents.
  15. Calls on the EU and its Member States to use sanctions against all individuals that are involved in the oppression of opposition and the shrinking of Russia’s civic space;
  16. Calls upon the Russian Federation to fully comply with its international obligations as a member of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by which it has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights;
  17. Calls for reforms of the Council of Europe and the OSCE to be less prone to Russia blocking policies and activities in line with the values of these organisations;
  18. Commits itself to connect with democratic youth movements in Russia, and to welcome and encourage the efforts of pro-European Russian youth in establishing and expanding JEF Russia.