Russia’s trade relations and economic presence in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have weakened. The Financial Times explored the statistics and reasons for the descreased Russia’s economic footprint in the region. Economic sanctions, plummeting commodity prices, and the recession in Russia induced the downturn in trade and withdrawal of some major Russian companies from the former Soviet-bloc countries.

Balazs Jarábik, an expert at the Central European Policy Institute and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, commented that the conflict has resumed a pattern that started after the collapse of the Soviet Union but which had slowed in recent years, particularly during the eurozone crisis.

“Reducing Russia’s economic footprint in CEE has been an ongoing trend for a longer period of time and the sanctions and oil price slump is only helping to move this forward again. Some of the old links could be rebuilt, but I believe politics will keep poisoning or interfering with trade relations in the Baltics and Poland [in particular],” Mr Jarábik said.

The slowdown of trade with Russia also has a negative impact on Central European economies. However, politicians in those countries most likely to be hit by the decline in trade — particularly in the Baltic region — have been among the strongest supporters of further action against Russia. Mr Jarábik says “hysteria” about Russian influence in the region means governments “would swallow economic costs to cut links to Russia for the sake of security and their own internal politics”.

You can read the full article here.