This, of course, means involvement of the United States as the principal Western party, in communication with Russia. While NATO-Russia relations will stay frankly adversarial, contact and communication between them can be vital for keeping the confrontation in Europe cold.
Almost equally important, although much harder, is accepting diversity. Russia will not become a European-style democracy in the next decade, nor will Europe bring back the days of bourgeois conservatism, which has suddenly become so dear to latter-day Kremlin ideologues. This major division should not, however, lead to conflict, or to delegitimization or denigration of neighbors. While lively discussion and heated debate in the public space will continue regardless, EU-Russia and state-to-state relations need to be shielded from that. Russia's participation in the Council of Europe and in the European Court of Human Rights, which are dominated by EU member states, will either foster endless polemics or be called into in question amid the new division between Russia and the EU.
Another principle is dealing with trade and technology as commerce and business. Economic relations between the EU countries and Russia will no longer revolve around grand projects. The fate of Nord Stream 2 will shape the future. Europe's share of Russia's trade will slowly decline over the next decade, while Russia's trade with China and other non-Western countries will expand. The EU's policies of moving toward carbon neutrality will make it less reliant on hydrocarbons. The diminishing importance of fossil fuels in the global economy will severely challenge Russia, whose foreign trade, even a decade from now, will still heavily depend on oil and gas. The EU-Russia economic relationship will continue, under sanctions, but will be seen essentially as commerce, devoid of any strategic significance.
Russia will still need Europe's advanced technologies, of course, but Europe will continue to restrict its access. These restrictions will probably become more stringent in the next few years, as Europe joins the United States to apply more sanctions on Russia, seeking to pressure it to change its foreign and domestic policies. In response, Russia will probably have to double down on import substitution and digitalization. Further de-dollarization will be as much a result of Russia's yearning for financial sovereignty as the result of US indirect sanctions. With the West not ruling out switching off SWIFT and sanctioning Russia's sovereign debt, development work will have to continue on an autonomous national payments system. There, Russia might cooperate with countries like China and possibly India.
Finally, emphasizing neighborliness would stimulate EU-Russia collaboration in the shared domains. Mutual engagement in the geopolitical common neighborhood – from Eastern Europe to the South Caucasus to the Middle East and North Africa – will be challenging or outright impossible for the reasons stated above. Areas like the natural environment and particularly climate would be more propitious for joint efforts. The EU is a champion of international cooperation on those issues, but Russia is also becoming increasingly interested in climate-related issues. No wonder: the pace of climate change in Russia is particularly high. As evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, public health also represents a shared domain. Despite fierce competition in the global pharma business, a degree of cooperation is possible there as well. In a word, the key to neighborliness is minimal mutual respect – however cold it may be and however laden with reservations.