Course Introduction

Welcome to the self-paced course 'EU-Russia Relations: Between the Vilnius and Riga Eastern Partnership Summits'. The following course is offered in the sisu online environment and can be accessed at any time.

The main aim of the course is to provide an interdisciplinary overview of EU-Russia relations through showcasing its dynamics and multi-vectorness from economics, security, political science, and media studies perspectives; as well as to demonstrate the impact of both actors’ policies on the post-Soviet space.

The temporal focus is on the period between November 2013 and May 2015. The course is organized into five lectures and covers such key events in EU-Russia relations as the Eastern Partnership Summits in Vilnius and Riga; the Sochi Olympics; the annexation of Crimea; as well as the imposition of EU’s sanctions on Russia and the Kremlin’s food embargo on European agriculture products. The course also discusses and explains such theoretical concepts as ‘state identity’, ‘soft annexation’ and the main principles of economic sanctions. 

Is preliminary knowledge needed?

Basic knowledge of international relations and EU-Russia relations terminology is recommended. However, the course will provide useful background material to any student, who is interested in European-Russian affairs and international relations in general.

Course objectives

  • Provide an interdisciplinary overview on the main factors, decision-making patterns and issues of European and Russian policies in both problem-oriented and region-specific aspects in the timeframe between the Vilnius and Riga Eastern Partnership Summits.

  • Introduce students to the institutional set-up and leadership positions of the European Union as well as their role in shaping EU-Russia relations.

  • Explain how domestic developments in Russia affect the state of bilateral relations with the EU.

  • Define and explain theoretical concepts such as ‘state identity’, ‘soft annexation’ and the principles of economic sanctions in EU-Russia relations.

  • Introduce students to important academic sources related to the field of EU-Russia relations.


Course format

The course contains 5 learning modules, which include video lectures, reading material and short self-test.  Self-test are organized after each thematic module and consist of 5 multiple-choice questions (to start attempt, simply press "Start quiz/Ava test").  The test is graded by ‘pass or fail’ system and can be taken unlimited times. 

Main literature sources


Anna Beitāne is a Project Manager (CAPM, PMI) at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. She received her master’s degree from the University of Tartu in European Union – Russia Studies (cum laude), and obtained her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Security Studies from the University of Bradford (United Kingdom). Her area of expertise involves politics of Russia and former Soviet bloc, EU-Russia relations, e-democracy and democratic insinuation/reform building with a geographical focus on Russia and Eastern Europe. Her works has been previously published in the Latvian Foreign and Security Yearbook (2014, 2015) and Baltic Rim Economies. 
Givi Gigitashvil is Givi Gigitashvili is a Research Assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab). He holds MA degree in the EU-Russia studies from the University of Tartu. Givi has gathered versatile professional and research experience through engaging with various think tanks in Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, and Poland. Most recently he held the International Development Consultant’s position, providing research and consultancy services to a wide range of public and private clients in Eastern European countries. Givi’s professional interests include, but are not limited to the politics of ex-Soviet countries, the EU-Russia relations, and the Eastern Partnership programme.
Thomas Linsenmaier is a Junior Research Fellow at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. He received his Diploma (MA equivalent) in Political Science from Free University Berlin in 2011. His main research interests revolve around International Relations theory, particularly the English School tradition, and issues related to European integration, EU foreign policy and diplomacy. In his PhD project, Thomas is working on the English School’s account of the regional level, with a focus on the interplay between the international societies of Europe and the so-called “post-Soviet space”.