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This paper tried to answer the question why a redirection of the EU’ s foreign policy course in the Eastern neighborhood has not occurred, despite a myriad of warning signs and pressures that have come to impinge on the Union’ s policy in the Eastern neighborhood in recent years. In an effort to do so it builds on the work of scholars from foreign policy analysis (FPA) critically adapted in order to better account for the specificities of EU foreign policymaking, a process in which institutions are deemed to play a bigger role than individuals. The impact of Russia’ s policies on the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in particularly Ukraine is used as a case study. This paper concludes that both cognitive and institutional constraints heavily affected the EU’ s policy response to the mounting challenges in the neighborhood. EU officials – strongly committed to their beliefs on the non-exclusive nature of European policies, and on the strategic partnership in place with Russia – found themselves stuck in a zero-sum game of which the stakes were radically beyond their cooperative, multilateral frames of mind. Repetitive signals about Russia’ s increasingly competitive approach in the neighborhood were not recognized, or not transmitted through the multiple institutional layers of the Union, accounting for limited change.