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EU Policy towards Ukraine: Entering Geopolitical Competition over European Order


Since 2004, competition between the European Union (EU) and Russia over the European political, economic and security order intensified sporadically, with a focal point in Ukraine. The EU’s main mitigation tactic in response to this competition used to be denial, but in 2022, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this approach became untenable. As a result, the EU entered the competition as an emerging geopolitical actor in three important respects: engaging in a conflict over the European order; utilising its (still limited) hard power; and extending its geographical borders. Most importantly, the EU is actively trying to shape the future of the European order that was challenged by Russia’s war against Ukraine. While pursuing its goals predominantly through civilian means, the EU has also taken major steps to strengthen its hard power capabilities and contributed military assistance. Furthermore, by granting candidate country status to Ukraine, it took a clear stance on its future borders, while these were violently contested.
Keywords: EU foreign and security policy; geopolitics; multipolar competition; Ukraine; Russia

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