There are several telling examples of how Russia exploits EU divisions to its advantage. The planned Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea, contracted between Russia and Germany without an EU consensus, epitomizes Russia's approach. Nord Stream serves four objectives: to limit Russia's reliance on transit across Central Europe; to deepen West European dependence on Russia; to generate disputes between Germany and Poland; and to marginalize the Poles and Baltics within the EU by depicting them as incorrigible Russophobes.
The Kremlin not only manipulates divisions between older and newer members. It also aims to forestall any common policy among EU newcomers. Hungary and Bulgaria have become the primary targets among former Soviet satellites. The Kremlin is capitalizing on longstanding personal connections with Socialist officials in these countries to construct pipelines and distribution points that will pre-empt Europe's energy diversification.