Moscow is certain that it is Brussels that really needs the new Partnership agreement--and it would have been easy to prove that point, but restraint was exercised giving the Europeans a rare opportunity to save face.
On balance, the awkward “tandem” power-sharing between Putin and Medvedev performed reasonably well in the crisis situation, showing no signs of strain.
The disjointed appeals for sanctions are causing more vexation in business headquarters in Frankfurt and London than among the Russian political elite, which has become Westernized in style and anti-Western in substance. The EU cannot have any other strategy for Russia than engagement, and it is profoundly at a loss about its declining ability to dictate the rules of this engagement. There are concerns in Moscow that a force majeure situation necessitated a step too far and too early, but there are hardly any doubts about the direction. Russia welcomes the dawn of an era of new multi-polarity, expecting to score more wins in the power-plays unrestrained by any global “sheriffs.” Putin’s regime would certainly feel more comfortable without the irritating examinations of its democratic credentials, and it is this non-transparent and unaccountable over-concentration of authority that is certain to remain Russia’s main vulnerability.