The outgoing EU ambassador to Russia identifies a deep and dangerous clash of values between Moscow and the west, epitomised by the Ukraine crisis

When I arrived in Moscow as the EU’s ambassador to Russia four years ago, relations between the two blocs were strained but functional. Within months, though, Russia would annex Crimea and intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine, plunging ties to their lowest point since the cold war. They have been in deep and acute crisis ever since and, as I leave my post, I am pessimistic that we will be able to return to a normal partnership in the near future. The differences between us are vast and hinge on principles of European security.

Today, the entire apparatus of the Kremlin has a singular focus: ensuring smooth and “credible” 2018 presidential elections that return President Vladimir Putin to power. Over the course of the six-year presidential term that will follow, it seems probable that the current clash of world views between Moscow and the west will continue.

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