This article assesses the development of EU-Russia relations in the context of EU foreign policy. EU relations with neighbouring countries and regions were the main priorities of the Common Foreign and Security Policy at its inception in the early 1990s. While Russia and the other former Soviet Republics were one of the stated priorities, it is argued that the EU relations with the countries of the CIS have subsequently been least developed. In the course of the 1990s, Russia emerged as the EU’s principal partner in the CIS. The EU may now be turning away from this ‘Russia first’ policy, focusing its efforts on developing relations with the other countries of the CIS. This is due to a confluence of factors, including EU enlargement, the accumulating EU competences in foreign policy, growing differences among the countries of the CIS as concerns their political and economic systems and policies, and their goals in relations with the EU. The most important reason for the absence of a real ‘strategic partnership’ is however that the two sides have different conceptions of what such a partnership entail in practice. While this limits the potential of the ‘strategic partnership’ in the foreseeable future, the opportunities for further progress in EU-Russia relations are not exhausted.