Interdependence and EU-demanded Policy Change in a Shared Neighbourhood
The Ukraine crisis seems to support the claim that strong socio-economic ties with Russia eventually reduce the effectiveness of the European Union’s (EU) Neighbourhood Policy in the post-Soviet space. However, research on EU-demanded policy change in the region finds that EU policies at times still travel to Russia-dependent countries and policy sectors. Taking this puzzle as a starting point, the article draws on the original work on interdependence in the discipline of International Relations and identifies specific conditions under which Russia exerts either supportive or constraining effects on EU policy transfer. Presenting evidence from a comparative case study on energy policy change in Georgia and Armenia, the article argues that the distinction of different forms of interdependence and their interplay with Russia’s quid pro quo bargaining, as well as with political preferences of domestic incumbents, are crucial to make sense of Russia’s seemingly Janus-faced role in the neighbourhood.