The Northwestern Federal District of the Russian Federation has been particularly active in asserting itself as a macro-regional political subject, transcending the administrative borders of the subjects of the Russian Federation. This affirmation of the Northwest as a macro-region is also characterised by the explicit location of the Federal District within the international regional context and the linkage of the newly elaborated strategic development plans with EU policies in the region, particularly the Northern Dimension. This strategic policy discourse is grounded in the problematisation of the existing format of EU-Russian cooperation on the regional level as marked by the passivity of Russian regions vis-à-vis EU policies. The district-level strategies proceed, on the contrary, from the need to assume a more active and assertive position towards the EU that would allow to integrate the policies of the Northern Dimension with the domestic reform vision in Russia. The paper seeks to analyse the international dimensions of the strategic discourse of the Northwestern ‘macro-region’, elucidate the conflict episodes and conflict issues that are articulated in this discourse and address the wider implications of the emergence of the Northwestern Federal District for the EU-Russian regional cooperation in the border regions.