Dr. Stefan Meister

Associate Fellow, Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia

Areas of Expertise

  • Russian foreign and security policy, EU-Russia relations
  • Russian energy, economic, and education policy
  • Eastern Partnership, especially in the Southern Caucasus, Belarus, and Ukraine
  • Russian relations in the post-Soviet space
  • Polish eastern policy regarding Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus


Russian, English, Polish


Email: meister@af.dgap.org

If you are interested in an internship in the Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, please contact Alena Epifanova: epifanova@dgap.org.

Dr. Stefan Meister was Head of the Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) from January 2017 until March 2019. Previously, he worked as the head of the program for Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia at the DGAP and as a senior policy fellow in the Wider Europe Team at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He has served several times as an election observer for the OSCE in post-Soviet countries and was responsible for University projects in Russian regions particularly in Kaliningrad. In the term 2015/16 Meister was visiting fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington D.C. writing on German-Russian relations as well as on Russian disinformation and propaganda.

His areas of research include Russian domestic, foreign, and energy policy; EU-Russia relations; German-Russian relations, and post-Soviet conflicts particularly in the South Caucasus. In 2013 he edited a volume on Russia's policy towards post-Soviet countries and its implication for EU policy with Nomos. He writes extensively on Germany's Russia policy, the interrelationship between Russian domestic and foreign policy, as well as on Eastern Partnership.” He recently published as a co-author the book "The Eastern Question. Russia, the West and Europe's Grey zone" at Brookings press (2016).


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Selected Publications

From Ostpolitik to EU-Russia Interdependence
Germany’s Perspective
by Stefan Meister
Published in "Post-Crimea Shift in EU-Russia Relations: From Fostering Interdependence to Managing Vulnerabilities", 2019, Kristi Raik & András Rácz (eds.)
With the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, followed by Western sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions, German decision-makers had to learn that economic and energy interdependence not only creates win-win situations but also means vulnerability. The reaction was a shift from the dominance of the economy in German policy on Russia to a securitisation and politicisation of relations with Moscow.
Nord Stream 2: The Dead-End of Germany’s Ostpolitik
by Stefan Meister
Berlin Policy Journal, February 20, 2019
The fight about the pipeline was supposed to give Germany cause to rethink its foreign-policy. Instead, Berlin is supporting a project that will hurt its credibility.
Between Old and New World Order
Russia’s Foreign and Security Policy Rationale
by Stefan Meister, Pavel Baev, Pavel Felgenhauer, Alexander Golts, Alexander Kolbin, Peter Pomerantsev
DGAPkompakt 19 (September 2018). 30 pp.
Between Old and New World Order
Political decision-making under Vladimir Putin is informed by a military-technological rationale, and military might is seen as a main tool of Russian foreign policy. Modern nuclear capabilities are key for Russia as they are regarded an effective bargaining chip that will also bring Moscow back to eye-level vis-à-vis the US. Yet, the Kremlin regards all manners of hybrid warfare – including disinformation, cyber-attacks and Russian-engineered international media coverage – as equally legitimate.
Category: Security, Russia
A Shift in German-Russian Relations
The Return of Pragmatism
by Stefan Meister
First published as DGAPstandpunkt 19, 2018 (in German)
A Shift in German-Russian Relations
The meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in August provided an opportunity to normalize German-Russian relations on an operational level. Issues such as Nord Stream 2, the war in Syria, the Iran nuclear agreement, and US sanctions policy under the Trump administration demand an interest-driven policy approach on both sides. The return to pragmatism means a “de-Ukrainization” in key areas of common interests.
Category: International Policy/Relations, Russia
Searching for a new foundation for German-Russian relations
by Stefan Meister
Russian International Affairs Council, May 14, 2018
Relations between Germany and Russia have always been fundamental for (peace and stability) Europe — whether in a negative way, for example remembering the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact on the eve of the Second World War, or in a positive way, as in the management of German unification, the end of the Soviet Union and the eastern enlargement of the EU.
Category: Russia
Stably Instable
Putin’s Reelection Will Not Stop Social Change in Russia
by Stefan Meister
DGAPviewpoint 9, 2018, 3 pp.
Stably Instable
Vladimir Putin has governed Russia for eighteen years. An entire generation of young Russians has only ever experienced him at the helm of their country. Yet, it is just this generation that Putin is losing touch with as he has been seeking his power base mostly in the conservative, small-town and rural majority. Putin’s reelection will not shield his government from the social change that Russia is facing – and it is this change that the West should set its hopes on.
Category: Elections, Russia
Germany Has a New Government
by Stefan Meister
First published for the Valdai Discussion Club
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier officially proposed the Bundestag to appoint Angela Merkel as Federal Chancellor. Will the policy of the “new old” federal government change, or will the grand coalition continue the current line? During her last term, Angela Merkel will have to deal much more with domestic issues and has to manage her succession, writes Stefan Meister, Head of Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, German Council on Foreign Relations.
Category: Bilateral Relations, Germany, Russia
Is Russia Europe’s Biggest Threat?
Judy Dempsey asks Stefan Meister and other experts
by Stefan Meister
“Judy Asks,” Carnegie Europe Blog, February 21, 2018
As part of her “Strategic Europe” blog for Carnegie Europe’s website, Judy Dempsey asked a selection of foreign and security policy experts, including the DGAP’s Stefan Meister, about Russia’s role for Europe.
Category: European Union, Russia
Geopolitics and Security
A New Strategy for the South Caucasus
by Stefan Meister
Geopolitics and Security - A New Strategy for the South Caucasus, 2018, 305 pp., ISBN 978-9941-449-93-2
Geopolitics and Security
The South Caucasus is a region at the nexus of various economic, political, and energy interests. It is currently witnessing some of the most complex and dangerous events in the world today. It features weak states, direct and proxy wars, and a confluence of great power interests. It is a prism for fundamental challenges to the international system, including separatism, security, energy transit, and infrastructure.
Mind the Gap
How France and Germany Can Spearhead Joint Foreign Policy Initiatives Now
by Claire Demesmay, Jana Puglierin, Laure Delcour, Barbara Kunz, Stefan Meister, Andreas Rinke, Frédéric Charillon, Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid, Dorothée Schmid
DGAPkompakt 4b (April 2018), 16 pp., Updated and extended version
Mind the Gap
Given the current instability on Europe's borders and uncertainty about the international role of the US under President Trump, it is high time for Franco-German foreign policy initiatives. However, differences between the two, both on policy issues and in their strategic cultures, also limit their cooperation. This study shows how France and Germany can bridge - and exploit - these gaps to facilitate joint initiatives on four key topics: Russia, transatlantic relations, Syria and Turkey.
Category: France, Germany