Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

How Russia, Step by Step, Wants to Regain an Imperial Role in the Global and European Security System

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

How Russia, Step by Step, Wants to Regain an Imperial Role in the Global and European Security System

Article excerpt

Introduction

The actions taking place in Ukraine (the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, ongoing from April 2014) and the growing tension between Russia and the countries of the West is the result of a planned and conscious new-old Russian geopolitical doctrine that is oriented to compete with the West and exert Russia's dominance in Eurasia.

After the fall of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, opportunities appeared for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to build a new world order and new international and European security architecture. This amounted to creating a Europe free from any divisions and spheres of influence. An important event that helped to implement this idea was the signing of the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in 1990, which was confirmed nine years later in the Charter for European Security (adopted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE). Article 8 of this charter posits "an equal right to security, inherent right of each and every participating State to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, as they evolve. Each State also has the right to neutrality. Each participating State will respect the rights of all others in these regards. They will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other States."1 The steps the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic States have taken,2 including their willingness to integrate with the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), are examples of them exercising precisely these rights.

Europe and the United States wanted to build a cooperative European security system with Russia. Examples of this more than two decade-long effort to build a partnership with Russia include the mechanism of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC),3 through which Russia was to be incorporated into the Western structure, and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA),4 signed in 1994, which established a mechanism for summits between the EU and Russia. As described by Dr. Robert Czulda from the University of Lodz, the period of cooperation with Russia after the Cold War can be illustrated as a sine wave: at one moment it functions the correct way and at another it is refracted, only to later again return to improved relations.5

Today we are witnessing the Russian Federation sidestepping from a path of integration with the West in a clear and conscious way onto a road based on a new geopolitical, Eurasian, anti-liberal doctrine oriented to compete with the West and towards the restoration of the Kremlin's hegemony over the majority of the post-Soviet countries, as well as the subordination of its neighbors.6 This began when President Vladimir Putin came to power after Boris Yeltsin and stated in the Russian Duma "that the collapse of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century."7 The turning point when Russia started to pursue this new doctrine can be assumed to be the years 2003 (Rose Revolution in Georgia) and 2004 (Orange Revolution on Ukraine). These two cases were met with a very positive response from the Western countries, who saw them as signs of the beginning of the democratization process in the East; in Russia's opin ion-its main aim being the restoration of its imperial position-these cases were seen as threats to its existential interests. In both cases, Moscow blamed the West, mainly US non-governmental organizations, for bringing about revolution, and "Russia thus became a ?strategic competitor' rather than a ?strategic partner'."8 The Kremlin did not want to recognize the efforts of these two countries - the efforts of two sovereign states that had, and still have, the right, in accordance with the Charter for European Security, to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances. Subsequently, these countries became major targets of Russia's aggressive new policy. …

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