The foreign policy of the Baltic states and the Ukrainian crisis: A case of Europeanization?

File Size1.83 MB
Create Date13.12.2017

Maili Vilson

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have established themselves as ardent supporters of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, and have also combined this with robust national policies. The crisis in Ukraine, with the annexation of Crimea and Russian military aggression precipitating confrontation in EU-Russia relations, presented the Baltic countries with the most formidable political challenge since restoring independence. Combining Europeanization literature with Larsen’s (2005) approach to the foreign policy of small states, the article focuses on the relationship between national foreign policies of EU member states and the European Union as a foreign policy platform. The analysis synthesizes the results of a content analysis of official press releases with interviews with the Baltic states’ diplomats. The empirical results show that in responding to the Ukraine crisis, the Baltic states have regularly pursued their policy aims through the EU, contesting the conventional notion that Europeanization rarely extends to foreign and security affairs. More specifically, the Baltic states’ handling of the Ukraine crisis suggests that Europeanization can affect even dossiers with heavy bearing on member states’ security and national sovereignty where – according to the extant consensus in the literature – it should be least likely.