Russia and Europe: Conflict or Cooperation?

Russia and Europe: Conflict or Cooperation?

Russia and Europe: Conflict or Cooperation?

Russia and Europe: Conflict or Cooperation?

Synopsis

This volume focuses on how Russian policy toward Europe has developed since the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It argues that important aspects of cooperation have endured in the relationship despite all the vicissitudes of Russian domestic politics and at a time of flux in the international relations of the European continent. This cooperation has, at times, been fragile and has not prevented some obvious and deep-seated disagreements. It has, however, survived. Russia and Europe have increasingly "routinized" their relationship in a range of formal multilateral institutions.

Excerpt

If one is to believe the headlines, then Russia's relations with Europe appear to have lurched from crisis to crisis since the brief 'honeymoon' period of the early 1990s. In December 1991, Russia's first democratically elected President, Boris Yeltsin, made an apparently serious declaration that Russia would one day join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Three years later, however, he was warning that any enlargement of NATO's membership to include the states of east-central Europe would provoke the risk of what he dubbed a 'cold peace'. By the time of NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia/Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, he had gone a step further, hinting darkly that Europe stood on the brink of a general war, a war in which Russia would, if pushed, take up arms against the NATO states.

The headlines, however, do not always tell the full story. Away from the rhetoric, Russia has, in fact, engaged in a wide range of cooperative activities with the states of Europe. It has negotiated all manner of arrangements with NATO and the European Union; has become a full member of the Council of Europe; has engaged in an unprecedented process of disarmament facilitated, in part, by the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty; has been an active participant in the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe; and has largely remained within the international consensus on action in the former Yugoslavia.

Russia's engagement with Europe has, then, displayed elements of both cooperation and conflict and, therefore, the question posed in the subtitle of this volume elicits no simple answer. That said, it is the purpose of the following chapters to elucidate some of the major areas of the relationship, focusing in the main on how Russian policy toward Europe (and sometimes, by extension, the West more broadly) has developed since the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The book's working premise is that cooperation has endured throughout all the vicissitudes of Russian domestic political and economic upheaval and at a time of flux in the international relations of the European continent. This cooperation, it is true, has often been fragile and has been accompanied by some not inconsiderable disagreements and tensions. Its prospects, moreover, are far from assured. Yet survive it has, the consequence of a complex mix of factors, not least . . .

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