The article analyses the regional approach in the eastern partnership (eap). It is argued that the eap is a political region-building project, which has entailed the construction of the eap region as a political and economic periphery based on a process of assimilating the eap countries to eu norms and standards. The assimilation project has, however, failed to yield significant success. The article explores the potential (and perhaps by now the missed opportunity) to adopt a more emancipatory approach to the region, including the strengthening of political and economic cooperation and infrastructure links between the eap countries to reduce their dependence on russia. But the outlook is bleak: after a decade of the eu's and russia's region-building projects competing (with neither power being particularly successful in the attempt to assimilate ‘its region’), the region and its states are likely to be fragmented into a multiplicity of territories which are set to develop into de facto dependencies of either russia or the eu/ the west.