The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine - European Union Committee Contents


The way forward

287.  We do not know how Russia will develop in the future. Mr Vladimir Kara-Murza, Co-ordinator, Open Russia, pointed out that there had been "mass protests in Moscow" against President Putin's polices in Ukraine and in Russia.[434] Sir Tony Brenton KCMG, former British Ambassador to Russia and Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, on the other hand, was "pretty confident" that President Putin would remain President. Mr John Lough, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, suggested that "all bets are off in terms of how Russia is going to develop and what Mr Putin's position is going to be in the coming years."[435]

288.  The underlying basis of the EU's approach to Russia must therefore be a sober assessment of the Russia that we have today. In the words of the President of the European Council, "Russia is not our strategic partner. Russia is our strategic problem."[436] Mr Josef Janning, Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, said that the EU approach was often to take "the moral high ground" but that a new strategic vision had to be "pragmatic or realistic." If the EU intended to be strategic then it would have to "face the realpolitik."[437] Above all, it must recognise that "Russia is different, difficult and can do harm but it will always be there, and we will have to find a way to live with whatever Russia we have."[438] We further believe that a realistic policy must also be founded on today's EU—28 Member States with strong views on Russia, a community of laws and treaties, and deep energy and economic interdependence with Russia.

289.  The evidence pointed towards a two-pronged approach to the EU's future policy. First, the EU must construct a credible response to Russia. While the EU is not a military organisation, witnesses urged the EU to uphold its rules and values and not to accommodate breaches of them. By doing so, the EU would make its strategic intent felt in Moscow.

290.  Second, Member States should not have a merely transactional relationship with Russia. Russia is singularly placed geopolitically to support the EU's strategic interests in counter-terrorism and security on the European continent and further afield. Therefore, alongside a less accommodating approach to Russian breaches of international rules, the EU must look to construct a genuinely collaborative relationship with Russia in areas of shared interest.

291.  We recognise that this change is unlikely at present, especially while there are no signs that the current Russian administration seeks a real partnership. Nevertheless, we believe that by approaching the relationship in the way we have outlined, the EU could change the mood of EU-Russia relations: this will stand the EU in good stead when Russia becomes once again open to genuine partnership. We next consider how this might be done.


292.  Views were divided on whether the EU should continue its engagement with the current Russian government. Mr Mikhail Kasyanov, former Prime Minister of Russia and co-leader of the Republican Party of People's Freedom (PARNAS party), said that as "Russia is temporarily not under the right regime", all current agreements, including membership of the Council of Europe, of the OSCE, and other agreements with the EU, "should wait for a better time."[439] In his view the EU and the West should stand on principle and cease co-operation and engagement with President Putin.[440] However, Mr Kara-Murza recommended "dual-track diplomacy", and saw "no contradiction between talking to the regime on issues you need to talk about but also keeping channels of communication open to the millions of Russians and their representatives who want a different future".[441]

293.  Mr Martin Hoffman, Executive Director, German-Russian Forum, suggested that international engagement with the Russian state could focus on wider cultural issues, such as the upcoming events to commemorate World War II.[442] The Minister agreed, telling us that the UK continued to co-operate with Russia on non-political issues and commemorations for World War II. He added that the British Ambassador in Moscow had attended the Victory Day celebrations in May, and that the Russian Ambassador in London had attended the Remembrance Day commemorations.[443] We also note that, in June 2014, President Putin attended the commemorations in Normandy, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day.


294.  Member States have to live with Russia as a neighbour, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, and as a regional power.

295.  The EU must be guided by a robust assessment of its interests and a sober understanding of today's Russia. There is no prospect of a rapid return to business as usual, but the EU and Member States still need to engage in dialogue, in the course of which the interests of both sides should be reconciled as far as possible. We therefore recommend that the UK Government should consider putting forward a proposal at an opportune moment to reconvene the EU-Russia summits, which are currently suspended.

296.  Events which commemorate our shared pan-European history should stand separate from international disputes. We recommend that EU Member States should continue to participate with Russian leaders in such events.

Enforcing rules and values

297.  Several witnesses urged the EU to return to its core principles. Mr Bond said that "the most important thing is that the EU, as a rules-based organisation, should follow a rules-based approach to Russia."[444] Sir Andrew Wood GCMG, former British Ambassador to Russia and Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, agreed that "being our better selves is the best thing that we can do for Russia."[445] He added that as a values-based organisation, the EU had to "defend those values or the European Union is absolutely nothing. Those values include the rule of law, the essential equality of the states within the European Union and the democratic accountability of their rulers."[446] Mr Kara-Murza also advised that the EU should stand by its values, "as the leaders of this country and America did … with regards to the Soviet regime".[447]

298.  The strategic rationale for enforcing values, according to Mr Kara-Murza, was that history had shown that there was a "direct connection between internal repression and outward aggression." A government that abused the rights of its own citizens and violated its own constitution was unlikely to respect its neighbours and abide by the norms of international law. It was "in the interests of every democratic nation to understand this and to behave accordingly."[448] His Excellency Dr Revaz Gachechiladze, Georgian Ambassador to the UK, and Mr Kasyanov also drew our attention to the 2008 war in Georgia, where the EU was quick to resume good relations with Russia and, thereby, in the words of Mr Kasyanov, gave "Mr Putin permission to perform in such a manner in the future."[449] Ambassador Gachechiladze considered that "if the West had been more assertive towards Russia maybe the present conflict over Ukraine might have been avoided."[450]

299.  Below we examine different arenas in which the EU could enforce its values and uphold its rules.


300.  Mr Alexander Kliment, Director, Emerging Markets Strategy, Eurasia Group, told us that Russia, which acceded to the WTO in 2012, had not been "very attentive" to WTO norms.[451] Dr Shevtsova said that Russia was "recklessly arrogant and in breach of WTO standards",[452] while Mr Jean-Luc Demarty, Director-General, DG Trade, had "never seen, after a recent accession, a member being in such breach with the WTO rules".[453]

301.  Mr Demarty informed us that the European Commission had launched dispute settlement cases against Russia. He cited three cases: a case on recycling fees on cars, a case on anti-dumping measures on light commercial vehicles, and a case on the Russian import ban on live pigs and pork products from EU territory.[454] DG Trade was considering other potential cases as well.[455]

302.  Sir Tony Brenton praised EU action on trade as "sharp and effective".[456] His Excellency Andrii Kuzmenko, Ukrainian Acting Ambassador to the UK, saw the Commission's efforts with the WTO dispute settlement process as "useful as part of wider long-term comprehensive measures", and believed that they would "certainly bring results in a couple of years".[457]


303.  To the extent that the EU engages with Russia it must be without prejudice to its own rules and values. Holding Russia to the commitments to which it has signed up in international forums is a source of leverage for the EU. There is a role for both the Commission and Member States.

304.  The European Commission has played a strong and effective role in holding Russia to its international commitments in the World Trade Organization.


305.  Transparency International (TI) told us that, according to estimates by the Russian Central Bank, in 2012 proceeds of crime valued at $56 billion left Russia.[458] Mr Ian Bond CVO, Director of Foreign Policy, Centre for European Reform, stressed that tackling money laundering was important "because we are facilitating the theft of large amounts of money from the Russian people".[459]

306.  At the EU level, Ms Shona Riach, Director, International Finance, Her Majesty's Treasury, told us that the "key thing" would be the next iteration of the so-called Fourth Money Laundering Directive, which was currently under negotiation.[460] The Government has been engaged on the negotiations and was "optimistic" that the right language would be present, though Ms Riach noted that the text was "not a done deal yet."[461] We were therefore disappointed to learn in December 2014 that the Government was considering challenging the legal base of the measure at the Court of Justice once it had been adopted.[462]

307.  TI welcomed changes in the Directive, which would lead to "increased co-operation between Financial Intelligence Units and a risk-based approach." However, it felt that the Directive fell short in other areas, "as it only calls for companies to hold their beneficial ownership data and provide it to authorities upon request." TI recommended "the establishment of public registers of beneficial ownership for companies, which would be interconnected and build on existing business registers."[463] Professor Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics, Sciences Po, Paris, also suggested that more could be done to trace the beneficial owners of companies and verify any connections to those on the sanctions list.[464]

308.  The key weakness in the current anti-corruption regime lies in enforcement. Professor Guriev explained that "the laws in place are already quite strong; they should just be enforced", adding that the "EU and the UK could have done a much better job" of enforcing existing anti-money laundering and anti-corruption legislation. He offered the example of people on sanctions lists who continued to hold assets abroad through chains of companies. Considering the intelligence capacities of EU Member States and the US, many were surprised that these things were "not tracked down."[465] Mr Bond agreed that there was "very uneven enforcement of the regulations" across some of the EU Member States.[466] Ms Tracey McDermott, Director of Enforcement and Financial Crime, Financial Conduct Authority, said that Cyprus, in particular, had conducted its own internal audit—exposing significant areas where Cypriot banks needed to improve their ability to screen Russian capital flows.[467]

309.  Mr Bond told us that implementation of anti-money laundering legislation was primarily for national authorities, but he was clear that Member States should exert pressure on each other to raise standards, and that, in the last resort, the Commission could take infraction proceedings.[468] TI, though, said that the capacity of the EU to enforce Member State compliance was limited: "There is no EU level equivalent of the FCA. The responsibility to monitor compliance lies with national level competent authorities."[469]

United Kingdom

310.  The UK is a key player in tackling money laundering. TI cited 2013 figures from the UK Financial Services Authority which showed that "£23-57 billion was potentially being laundered in the UK each year."[470]

311.  The FCA's 2011 report on anti-money laundering provisions and implementation in financial institutions focused on banks' controls over high-risk customers, and "found significant weaknesses." In particular, Ms McDermott told us that the FCA had found "failures in the overall risk assessment and governance within institutions and how they identified what risks they faced". Significant work had been done subsequently both by the regulator and by institutions to improve controls, and the FCA had taken enforcement actions against 10 institutions over the past five years. Ms McDermott had found "a significant improvement in the amount of effort and energy, particularly at senior management level" that had been put into this area in the past few years, though there was "still some way to go."[471]

312.  The Treasury was confident about the robustness of the UK's anti-money laundering mechanisms, noting that the Financial Action Task Force—the intergovernmental body that sets global standards on tackling money laundering and terrorist financing—considered that the UK had "one of the most robust anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regimes of all its members."[472]

313.  Further steps are also being taken: Ms Riach told us that the UK would "establish a central registry of beneficial ownership," through Companies House, and that the information would be publicly accessible.[473] The Government has also announced an overhaul of the company director disqualification regime, which would broaden the matters to be taken into account when determining whether a director is unfit, allow the courts to take overseas misconduct into account, and give power to disqualify someone from being a UK director if he or she had been convicted of an overseas criminal offence in connection with company management.[474]


314.  Combating corruption should be an essential part of the EU-Russia relationship. Only in this way will the EU be able to prevent the theft of assets from the Russian people.

315.  The UK could play a very useful role at the EU level. We urge the UK Government to take the lead in supporting good practice across the EU.

316.  The necessary EU legislation is in place, but there is inconsistent enforcement across the Member States. It is not enough to enact the law. The EU Commission, if necessary through infraction proceedings, must also ensure that all national governments are implementing the law correctly.

317.  The capacity of some smaller Member States to enforce anti-corruption legislation is limited. The EU should consider providing additional resources—financial, staff and training—to these Member States. Not to do so puts the entire Union's anti-money laundering and anti-corruption regime at risk. We recommend that the Commission should put forward a proposal to assess the shortage of capacity across Member States. This could form the basis of an action plan to address this shortage, and thereby strengthen implementation.


318.  Russia frequently claims that other countries should not interfere in its domestic policies. But several witnesses reminded us that Russia had voluntarily signed up to a number of human rights commitments in international forums, and that human rights within Russia were therefore not just an internal matter. Mr Bond reminded us that as a member of the OSCE Russia had accepted the commitments embodied in the Helsinki Final Act and later additions.[475] Mr Kara-Murza and Mr Kasyanov also emphasised that Russia was a member of both the Council of Europe (and thus a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) and the OSCE, within which human rights, democracy and the rule of law were the concern of all the participating states.[476] The onus lay with Member States, as signatories to these international treaties and parties to these international bodies, to hold Russia to those international commitments.

319.  Witnesses highlighted the importance of the pan-European Convention system—the Council of Europe, the ECHR and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)—in helping Russia remedy its human rights problems. Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe, is a signatory to the ECHR and judgments of the Court are binding on it. Mr Gunnar Wiegand, Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and OSCE, EEAS, said that the ECHR was "binding law" in Russia, but that Russia was not very attentive and faced "by far the largest caseload in terms of human rights violations of any member of the Council of Europe."[477] Mr Kara-Murza said that the ECtHR was the "last independent court that we have in Russia".[478] In the context of the OSCE, Mr Bond urged Member States to be "more forward and more assertive in challenging Russia on its compliance with those commitments."[479] We note that the enforcement of judgments of the ECtHR and Member State actions at the OSCE fall outside the scope of this Report and indeed the remit of this Committee.

320.  The UK, as a founding member of the Council of Europe, had a significant role to play. Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General to the Council of Europe, in his evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill, said that during its chairmanship the UK had undertaken reforms "so that the Court can work more effectively".[480] He said that the UK "has always been seen as the leading nation regarding human rights and rule of law in Europe and worldwide." He pointed out that any failures by the UK to implement judgments from the Court would set a bad example and may be "the beginning of the weakening of the Convention system".[481] He emphasised that it was of "extraordinary importance that this Convention system is functioning effectively in order to remedy the human rights problems in such countries" as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.[482]

321.  There is also a role for Member States and the European External Action Service to raise these issues in their bilateral and institutional contacts with Russia. Sir Andrew Wood reminded us that during the era of the Soviet Union, the EU "explicitly supported individuals"—often "high-level cases" which had achieved some publicity. That, he saw, was "an honourable record and I see every reason why we should live up to it."[483] Mr Bond noted that "we need to make sure that we raise their [human rights activists'] problems on a regular basis with the Russian authorities."[484] Mr Kara-Murza also urged the EU to raise the question of human rights, democracy and rule of law "in every single meeting with the representatives of the Putin regime".[485] At the same time, Sir Tony Brenton offered the caveat that the Russians were "used to these lectures and they do not pay a lot of attention"; but, even so, not to repeat them would send the "signal that we had lost interest."[486]

322.  The EEAS urged a more calibrated approach. Mr Wiegand said that there was a "dilemma", because the moment information was made public, the partners in the discussion often became "less inclined to change either the legislation or implementation."[487] Mr Pierre Vimont, Executive Secretary, European External Action Service, urged us to take a case-by-case approach, as sometimes it was necessary to say "plainly what we think about the violation of human rights" in a non-public way, whereas in other cases it might be "important to make it public."[488] When particular cases of human rights were brought to their attention the EEAS made "representations in Moscow if necessary."[489] Mr Vimont explained that Member States valued the "division of labour" whereby Member States left it to the EU "to promote and defend human rights" and sometimes remained "a little bit silent" themselves.[490]


323.  The EU and Member States must continue to raise the human rights situation in Russia in international forums and to press Russia on human rights violations in their bilateral relations. It is not sufficient for Member States to delegate this to the EU institutions.

324.  The Convention system, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, remains the most important means of addressing violations of human rights in Russia. Member States, as signatories to the Convention and parties to the Council of Europe, bear a shared responsibility to ensure that Russia respects the rights enshrined in the Convention and the judgments of the Court.

325.  We make a brief postscript on UK policy on the European Convention. If the UK is to retain its credibility in its criticisms of Russia on human rights, then its position would be undermined if it sought to weaken its own commitment to the Convention. Such a move would resonate in Russia in a very significant way and would be a powerful tool of propaganda for the Russian government.

Building a relationship beyond the Russian government

326.  Several witnesses differentiated between the Russian state and the Russian public, suggesting that the EU could play a greater role in supporting civil society within Russia. Assistant Professor Serena Giusti, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, noted that we "should not commit the grave mistake of identifying an entire country with its leadership."[491] Dr Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate, Moscow Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also urged us to "divide the state and the nation, and the state and society."[492] Mr Kara-Murza suggested a dual-track policy whereby the EU would:

    "Talk to the regime—you cannot avoid this—but you also recognise that the regime is not the same as the country, and you talk to opposition leaders, to civil society representatives and to people who frankly could be the face of the Russia of tomorrow. It is not very far­sighted to deal just with the group in power in the Kremlin now without regard for what happens next."[493]

327.  We asked how this could be achieved within the circumscribed conditions of contemporary Russia. Associate Professor Tomila Lankina, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, advised that the EU should continue its "efforts to support media development, civil society, and democratic governance at regional and local levels across the country". Associate Professor Lankina's research showed that EU support for small projects nurturing civil society, media freedom and municipal capacity in the former Soviet Union was effective. These projects often appeared "unglamorous"—examples included "sponsoring cross-border exchanges in small towns, purchase of computer equipment for a community civil society group, or student scholarships"—but could "help nurture islands of resilience to authoritarianism."[494]

328.  Mr Vimont drew attention to the existing dialogue with civil society organisations (CSOs). The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, set up in 2011 and supported by the EU, brought together around 120 CSOs from EU Member States and Russia. Mr Vimont added that the EU had "regular contacts with the CSOs on the European and the Russian sides", and that it "participated in many meetings and conferences with these civil society organisations."[495]

329.  In Germany, Mr Hoffman outlined the work of the German-Russian Forum in promoting social initiatives between Germany and Russia. He stressed the importance of separating the political conflict from the EU's relationship with the Russian people, and added that the EU should continue to try to engage with Russia in cultural, civil society areas wherever possible.[496]


330.  The EED is a joint initiative by EU Member States and EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the European Commission, which aims to foster and encourage democracy in countries in the European neighbourhood. In October 2014, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff MEP, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the EED, informed us that the EED's remit did not currently extend to Russia, but that this decision was being reconsidered by the board.[497] Mr Bond suggested that "we should urgently extend it to cover Russia." The UK Government had not yet contributed to the EED financially, and Mr Bond urged the UK to "do better" in its support of the EED.[498] Graf Lambsdorff noted that the UK had contributed intellectually and had "been actively involved" in making a number of constructive suggestions, particularly regarding monitoring and evaluation. However, he agreed that it "would be desirable for the UK to become perhaps a little more engaged, particularly in financial terms".[499]

Co-operation further afield

331.  Russia and the EU continue to co-operate on issues further afield. The Minister for Europe told us that the UK had maintained contact on issues like "Iran, counterterrorism, Afghanistan post-ISAF and counter-narcotics policy".[500] The Russians played a "constructive role" in talks with Iran on its nuclear programme, and had "adopted a positive approach during the ISIL conference in Paris" earlier in 2014. At the international level, relationships and mechanisms were "working satisfactorily", albeit with some chilliness at the political level which made it difficult to develop those relationships further. The Government wanted these relationships to continue and was "certainly not going to try to weaken them."[501] His Excellency Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK, said that when it came to international affairs, it was "much easier for Russia to work with the EU when its Member States manage to agree on a truly united position." Co-operation on the Iranian nuclear programme was one such example; he disputed the "widely-held misconception" that Russia was not interested in the EU as a strong foreign policy player.[502]

A relationship in the long term

332.  We were disappointed by the lack of suggestions coming out of Russia, the EU, and Member States on how to establish a new basis for the long-term relationship between the EU and Russia. Below we offer three suggestions. We recognise that the present conditions are unpropitious, but we urge the EU, the UK Government and other Member States to consider how they should structure their relations with Russia beyond the present impasse.


333.  President Putin first proposed the creation of a common economic space in an editorial in 2010, and has subsequently reiterated his support for the idea.[503]

334.  Hitherto, the EU has been sceptical. Mr Demarty urged us to distinguish between "speeches on the one hand and acts on the other", noting that "Russia mentioned this project while stopping all attempts to create such a common economic space." He added that the EU had tried to negotiate this common economic space with Russia for "years and years", but that Russia had not shown itself willing to respect open competition rules, which could mean restricting its subsidy system, or requiring Russian companies to compete with non-Russian companies on an equal footing.[504] The Minister for Europe told us that talks "did not get anywhere", because it was never very clear what the Russians wanted—for example "what convergence on a free trade area would mean".[505]

335.  On the other hand, Professor Guriev felt that the common economic space was "a great idea and it should be pursued." The EU "should have devoted more resources to this conversation." He recognised that it was unlikely to happen under the current Russian government, but "in the long run, I think it should happen and it will happen."[506] Dr Tom Casier, Jean Monnet Chair, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Kent, agreed that it was an ambitious, long-term project, but it had "to remain a core strategic objective."[507] Dr Marat Terterov, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Brussels Energy Club, said that while the idea might "be a bit of pipe dream", if the EU started to create the perception that it was "trying to move in that direction, I guarantee that it will change the chemistry in our relationship with Russia."[508]


336.  Some witnesses suggested that it might be helpful to engage Russia in discussions on a new security architecture. Dr Casier noted that the recent crisis had shown that "we have no effective collective security mechanisms in Europe."[509] The OSCE lacked legitimacy, had not proved itself effective, and, when it came to NATO's enlargement to the Baltic states and the missile defence system, "Russia felt that its concerns were not heard."[510] He added that the EU had no choice but to discuss these issues with Russia: "security in Europe will never be achieved without including Russia in one way or another."[511]

337.  His Excellency Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the EU, felt that, as NATO's borders had moved closer to Russia, the need for a new security architecture had become apparent. He told us that President Putin had proposed a treaty on European security co-operation, to include all OSCE and NATO countries, but Russia had been disappointed by NATO's response, which was that it could only guarantee security to its members, without any flexibility to share it with partners. Ambassador Chizhov suggested that discussions on security co-operation could be one way in which to develop a more positive relationship between the EU and Russia.[512]

338.  Other witnesses pointed out that Russia had already signed up to a European security order (which it had breached), and that such actions had made neighbouring countries wary of co-operation. Ambassador Gachechiladze said that it would be "next to impossible" to nudge or push Russia towards a security partnership in the European space. The Russians "have their own agenda; they have their own geopolitical code, which does not coincide with the European geopolitical code."[513] Mr Vimont told us that the EU had found Russia prone to statements, but short on concrete action: in response to Russian proposals, the EU had at many times at all levels affirmed that it was "interested and ready to see how we could move ahead", but at the end of the day, it had "never got very far."[514] The Minister for Europe said that EU Member States had been "right to be wary". He warned us that Russia had a history of attempting to build Eurasian security structures from which the US and Canada were excluded.[515]


339.  Several witnesses commented on the need to build trust between the EU and the Russian people. Mr Hoffman told us that the EU was in danger of losing the Russian people.[516] Sir Tony Brenton said it looked as if the cultural and educational links built up since the collapse of communism might "stop and go into reverse." This, he judged, was "one of the great tragedies of where we are now."[517]

340.  Mr Denis Volkov, Head of Development Department, Levada Center, said that there was a clear correlation between Russian people feeling European and their direct experiences of visiting the West. The extent to which Russians felt European and welcomed a western type of democracy was "twice as high" for those who had had direct experience of communication with the West, or who had been abroad and seen for themselves "what life in the West is".[518]

341.  Mr Kara-Murza suggested that the EU might ease the visa application process for "law-abiding Russian citizens and … increase and enhance the people-to-people contacts between Russia and the rest of Europe."[519] Mr Lough agreed that it was important to maintain links in culture, education and science: "We wish to see Russians able to travel more freely, to come to this country more easily and to receive visas more easily, which is a massive problem. It is still a relatively small number of Russians who are travelling abroad."[520]

342.  For Sir Andrew Wood, educational exchanges were the way forward. The EU did a "lot of long-term good by including Russians within our educational system", because Russians "learn a lot from being in a rules-based democratic country. They learn that the myths they are taught are at least to be questioned."[521] Mr Lough said that links in culture, education and science were important, and agreed that it was important to continue to maintain those links.[522]

343.  The British Council informed us that over 5,000 Russians were currently undertaking full-time education in the UK—an increase of 63% over the past five years—and that in the Russian state sector, "English is taught to an estimated 15 million learners in more than 60,000 schools." The British Council had continued its work in Russia despite the difficult context and remained committed to working there. It believed that when political or diplomatic relations became difficult, cultural exchange helped "to maintain open dialogue between people and institutions." The British Council's experience also highlights the difficulties for foreign NGOs working in Russia: in 2008 it had to close its offices in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, and it now operates only in Moscow.[523]

344.  2014 was the UK-Russia Year of Culture and we were pleased to note that cultural institutions had continued the tradition of co-operating with Russian counterparts in the face of political difficulties. In particular, it is notable that the British Museum lent one of the 'Elgin marbles' to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg for the museum's 250th anniversary celebrations.[524] Mr Lough drew our attention to the Kazimir Malevich exhibition at Tate Modern in 2014. He also pointed out that 2014 was the EU-Russia Year of Science. While he did not have firm evidence, it was said that "in the scientific area there has been a lot of effective collaboration".[525]

345.  The Minister for Europe said that contacts in the fields of education, culture and science continued, and added that he believed that "people-to-people, free-institution-to-free-institution contact should go ahead". However, he acknowledged that, as had happened with the Year of Culture, it was going to be "very difficult for the Government to encourage those activities or participate in them in the absence of a de-escalation of the crisis in Ukraine and the implementation of the Minsk agreements."[526]


346.  The EU and Member States must pursue a dual-track policy. In the short term, there must be a strong credible response to Russian actions in eastern Ukraine, involving a tough sanctions policy and a strong enforcement of rules. In the long term, the capacity to bring about political change is more likely to be successful if coupled with a willingness to engage with Russia on broader issues. Starting a serious dialogue on issues of shared interest, such as a common economic space and a shared security architecture, as well as cultural co-operation and educational exchanges, could have a positive effect both on public opinion in Russia and on the adversarial mindset present in official circles.

347.  While the current government in Russia may not appear to welcome a strategic dialogue with the EU or the West, the EU and Member States must nevertheless be bold and ambitious in their aims for a better understanding with Russia.

348.  A discussion with Russia on collective security should involve Europe as a whole, along with the US and Canada. Russian security threat perceptions of NATO have to be acknowledged, and also challenged, in any discussions on European security.

349.  We welcome the ongoing co-operation in the fields of culture, education and science, which are vital to build up the relationship with the Russian people. Irrespective of how EU-Russia relations proceed, this co-operation should not be sacrificed.

350.  It would be a failure of imagination and diplomacy if the crisis in Ukraine were to result in a long-lasting era of colder relations and reduced co-operation not only at the political, but also the cultural, level.

434    Q99 Back

435    Q48 Back

436   Henry Foy, 'Lunch with the FT: Donald Tusk', Financial Times (28 November 2014): cms/s/0/72d9b928-7558-11e4-b1bf-00144feabdc0.html [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

437    Q110 Back

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441    Q107 Back

442   Appendix 5: Evidence taken during visit to Berlin Back

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451    Q19 Back

452    Q5 Back

453    Q147 Back

454    Q136 Back

455    Q147. For details of these three cases see the Report from the European Commission to the European Council Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2014, COM(2014) 153 (12 March 2014): [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

456    Q30 Back

457    Q70 Back

458   Written evidence (RUS0014) Back

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460    Q91. The Fourth Money Laundering Directive encompasses the Proposal for a Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing and the Proposal for a Regulation on information on the payer accompanying transfers of funds. The Directive has been examined by the Committee and was released from scrutiny in June 2014: Back

461   Ibid. Back

462   Letter from Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, to Lord Boswell of Aynho, Chairman of the European Select Committee, 4 December 2014 Back

463   Written evidence (RUS0014) Back

464    Q82 Back

465    Q82 Back

466    Q12 Back

467    Q87 Back

468    Q12 Back

469   Written evidence (RUS0014) Back

470   Ibid. Back

471    Q88 Back

472    Q87 Back

473    Q91 Back

474   Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 'Transparency and Trust: Enhancing the transparency of UK company ownership and increasing trust in UK business' (April 2014): [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

475    Q14. The Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe Summit of Heads of State or Government states that human rights are of "universal significance" and an "essential factor for the peace, justice and wellbeing necessary to ensure the development of friendly relations and co-operation among themselves as among all States." Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Final Act (Helsinki 1975): [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

476    Q100 (Vladimir Kara-Murza),  Q221 (Mikhail Kasyanov) Back

477    Q160 Back

478    Q108 Back

479    Q14 Back

480   Oral evidence taken before Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill, 6 November 2013 (Session 2013-14), Q 177 Back

481   Ibid., Q 178 Back

482   Ibid., Q 177 Back

483    Q207 Back

484    Q14 Back

485    Q106 Back

486    Q32 Back

487    Q158 Back

488    Q159 Back

489    Q158 Back

490    Q159 Back

491   Written evidence (RUS0007) Back

492    Q8 Back

493    Q105 Back

494   Written evidence (RUS0001) Back

495    Q158 Back

496   Appendix 5: Evidence taken during visit to Berlin Back

497    Q131 Back

498    Q14 Back

499    Q129 Back

500    Q261 Back

501    Q262 Back

502   Written evidence (RUS0019) Back

503   'From Lisbon to Vladivostok: Putin Envisions a Russia-EU Free Trade Zone', Spiegel Online (25 November 2010): and 'Russia and the changing world', Ria Novosti (27 February 2012): [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

504    Q149 Back

505    Q261 Back

506    Q86 Back

507    Q114 Back

508    Q121 Back

509    Q114 Back

510    QQ114, 117 Back

511    Q114 Back

512   Appendix 4: Evidence taken during visit to Brussels Back

513    Q186 Back

514    Q157 Back

515    Q261 Back

516   Appendix 5: Evidence taken during visit to Berlin Back

517    Q50 Back

518    Q196 Back

519    Q98 Back

520    Q50 Back

521    Q205 Back

522    Q50 Back

523   Written evidence (RUS0016) Back

524   'British Museum to send more Elgin Marbles abroad despite Greek anger', The Daily Telegraph (6 December 2014): [accessed 2 February 2015] Back

525    Q50 Back

526    Q261 Back

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