Russia and Europe: Building Bridges, Digging Trenches

Russia and Europe: Building Bridges, Digging Trenches

Russia and Europe: Building Bridges, Digging Trenches

Russia and Europe: Building Bridges, Digging Trenches

Synopsis

Russian-European political relations have always been problematic and one of the main reasons for this is the different perspectives on even the very basic notions and concepts of political life. With a worldwide recession, the problems as well as the opportunities in Russian-European relations are magnified. While most works on Russian-European, Russian-American and Russian-West relations focus on current policies and explain them from a standard set of explanatory variables, this book penetrates deeper into the structural and ideational differences that tend to bring about misperceptions, miscalculations, misinterpretations and misdeeds in this two-directional relationship. It applies a very broad conceptual framework to analyse differences that are as relevant for Europe and the EU as it is to Russia's immediate neighbours and, while doing so, identifies the key factors that will dominate Russia-EU ties in the next decade.

Excerpt

This edited volume has developed out of the interests of the two editors, Kjell Engelbrekt and Bertil Nygren, both of whom in recent years were preoccupied with what can be described as two sides of the same coin: analysing to what extent Russia and the policies of its government can be rendered compatible with European interests, desires and values. An ancillary but related issue is whether and how Europe – and the European Union (EU) in particular – may be in a position to engage Russian authorities and other actors in working toward that end, while avoiding serious confrontation in the regions that borders both. After 1991, the EU’s general approach was to slowly drag Russia into its normative sphere of democracy and free market principles, which given time would strengthen incentives for Russia to act ‘European’ or ‘Western’. Some two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing disintegration of the USSR, however, the word ‘failure’ is being painted on the Western side of a new kind of barrier between the two political entities. There are powerful autocratic tendencies in Russia and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), hostility in Russia against foreign investments in key sectors of the Russian economy and, in mid-2008, there was the Kremlin’s show of military force in Georgia. Today, the sentiment is that hundreds of years of separation between Russia and Europe manifest themselves in the way the two regard themselves and each other, and in terms of the goals and means perceived as necessary to promote their respective interests and values.

Put briefly, this volume is about these reinvigorated divisions and how they translate into stark policy variations, how great power relations mitigate and magnify tensions stemming from the former, and the way in which ‘in-between’ countries like Serbia, Ukraine and Moldova try to handle these differences when simultaneously pulled in two opposing directions. The full argument that serves as the overall thematic of this book is developed in Chapter 1. This chapter is followed by three sections that explore distinctive subsets of that overall thematic.

In the first section, three chapters address various aspects of the ideational tensions between Europe and Russia. In a chapter called ‘Russia and Europe after the Cold War: Cultural Convergence or Civilizational Clash?’, Russell Bova deals explicitly with the trend that Russian norms, values and institutions seem to be drifting further away from those of Europe at large and of the EU in . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.