The Partnership for Modernisation was an attempt to re-set the EU–Russia relationship. This article discusses how far modernisation can be the basis for a more productive relationship. The article argues that rather than a shared approach with the EU there is aparticular, historical Russian approach to modernisation. It discusses how far this constitutes a separate model and identifies a range of problems such as corruption and human rights whichundermine this model even in its own terms. The article suggests that modernisation is indeed a basis for a continuing EU–Russia partnership, in spite of recent crises. However, it has to be a partnership which accepts the specificity of Russian development yet also helps deliver a more sustainable path of modernisation.