© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.What is the importance of linkages between civil society and external actors? In this article we map the landscape of civil society organisations in Belarus and Ukraine linked to the EU or Russia. Compiling an extensive dataset of organisations, we identify which domains they belong to. We find that linkages with Russia prevail in the culture domain and are based on shared past and exclusive identities. By contrast, linkages with the EU operate in domains related to a democratic future and include diverse groups. These linkages interact dynamically with limited access orders: where they can contribute to opening, they are often restricted.