Why Russia is not in the EU: The fundamental reason Putin won’t join the bloc

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During recent months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it well documented that he is opposed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), issuing a series of demands for it to limit its movements within eastern Europe. Just like Nato, Russia is not a member of the EU, despite the bloc existing for nearly 30 years.

What is the EU?

Established in early 1992, to date the EU is made up of 27 member states, including Germany, France and Italy.

The bloc was formed less than a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of the Russian Federation.

An estimated 447 million people live within EU member states, with Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission – viewed as the EU’s figurehead.

Why is Russia not a member of the EU?

When the EU was created, then Russian president Boris Yeltsin was struggling to bring his country back together.

In 1992, he faced a constitutional crisis when parliament took actions to impeach him, which involved military force.

It became difficult to see a way forward for Russia to join the bloc, until it had cleared up its own domestic matters.

Moreover, Russia was the largest country on the planet with a very different economic structure to the initial member countries, meaning it might not have been in the EU’s best interests to include them.

It could have meant significant concessions would have to be made in order to ensure the inter-EU relationships worked.

Nonetheless, Russia did sign a declaration with the EU in late 1993, aimed at strengthening relations between the two, particularly in the political sphere.

However, the appointment of Vladimir Putin as President stalled diplomatic relations, and the two have drifted further apart under his leadership of Russia.

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On the surface, it was viewed that the EU’s aims and political standpoint were diametrically opposed to Putin’s.

Despite not being in the EU, Russia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

This is a military alliance signed in 1992 alongside Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Which countries make up the EU?

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

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