Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship

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However, was it really the case? Could we speculate about an alternative track of the relationship if Moscow had taken a different, more proactive approach, beginning in January ? The inertia of negative trends in Russian-U. Policies toward Moscow became an important component of U. However, in my view, Russian policy made a few tactical mistakes that closed the door to even limited progress in the bilateral relationship during the first few months of the new Administration. First, the political fallout of the alleged Russia's interference into the U.

Instead of demonstrating its understanding of American concerns—no matter how grounded and justified these concerns looked from the Russian side—and offering full cooperation in investigating the hackers' case, the Russian leadership took a very condescending and dismissive position in this matter. Therefore, you deal with them. Nothing to talk about," [ 3 ] was how President Putin responded to Megyn Kelly's question about hackers at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in early June.

This dismissive attitude played a significant role in consolidating the anti-Russian consensus in America. Two month later the U. Congress almost unanimously approved a new far-reaching sanctions package against Russia.

Russia and the Evolving European Security Order

Second, it its attempts to reach out to the United States, the Russian leadership targeted exclusively the new Administration, instead of sending meaningful signals to the U. For instance, Moscow could have announced the abolition of the notorious Dima Yakovlev Law that banned adoption of Russian orphans by U. It could have demonstrated its good will by reconsidering the list of U.

It could have restarted a number of frozen U.

Unfortunately, none of these evident steps was made—probably because the Kremlin did not consider U. Finally, to the extent we can judge the initial Russian proposals to the new U.

Administration, which allegedly were submitted to the White house in late March-early April , they were limited primarily to restoring communications in three areas. Moscow offered to resume political dialogue, contacts between top U. Nothing suggests that these proposals contained any substantive ideas or demonstrated any new flexibility in Kremlin positions on matters like Syria or Ukraine.

There was nothing in the proposals that would give the Trump Administration the prospect of an early and spectacular foreign policy success. In it became evident that not only had the Trump Administration inherited the U.

What was more, America had also entered a social crisis that went way beyond the Washington, DC Beltway and had the potential to affect the whole of American society. The hope that Donald Trump could be a strong president capable of restoring the shaken unity of the American people did not pan out, while the polarization of different political and social groups increased throughout most of The White house became significantly restricted in its ability to conduct a consistent foreign policy, not to mention implement any long-term strategy.


At the same time, the developments of suggest that the decline of the old era in Europe has been postponed, if not cancelled outright. The populist Eurosceptics failed in the Dutch and French elections, and the German election reaffirmed the continuity of Berlin's European strategy. Notwithstanding all of Brexit's negative implications, it actually resulted in the European idea gaining more popular support within the EU's 27 remaining member states, and it became unlikely that any would follow suit any time soon.

The migration crisis was not completely resolved, but in it no longer appeared as dramatic as it did in and especially in The euro did not crash, and no eurozone nations were thrown out. It seems that Moscow was late to accept the important change of the curve in European developments and to change its tactics, if not strategy, towards Europe. Otherwise, it is hard to understand, for example, why Vladimir Putin chose to greet personally French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin in March and why the Russian mainstream media were so critical, if not hostile, to Emmanuel Macron literally until the day of the second round of the French presidential elections.

To be fair to the Kremlin, it demonstrated a much more prudent approach to the parliamentary elections in Germany in September. On the other hand, one can argue that there was a fundamental difference between the French and German election cycles of in France, three of four presidential candidate argued for a more accommodative EU policy toward Russia, including possible change to the regime of sanctions; in Germany no mainstream political party contemplated such a change. It would appear that the United States and Europe followed opposite courses in while Brussels was beginning to react to its systemic problems, albeit slowly and falteringly, Washington only watched its problems grow.

On the other hand, these processes in Europe and North America, which might seem incompatible through the prism of global politics, essentially reflected in different ways the same fundamental meaning of The Western world as a whole demonstrated more ability to adjust, more resistance to destabilizing factors, and more resilience than anyone could have credited it with in late It would probably be an overstatement to label as annus mirabilis , but it was definitely not as bad as , and it countered some of the most pessimistic views on the inevitability of Western decline.

It is true that after Trump became president, disputes intensified within NATO as to how the burden of defense expenses should be distributed within the Alliance.

Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for Transatlantic Cooperation | Council on Foreign Relations

It is also true that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership project is no more, but this has not resulted in heated trade wars between Europe and North America, nor will such conflicts break out in the future. Washington has left the Paris climate accord, but the major part of American business and society continue to observe the letter and spirit of that agreement. This does not mean that resolved the postmodernist crisis in international relations: the fundamental problems of the modern global political system did not disappear in , and the system will still have to change one way or another.

Therefore, current changes will most likely be characterized by a protracted evolution rather than a swift revolution; they will take years and even decades to complete. This process will have its ups and downs, speedups and slowdowns. Speaking specifically of , one can conclude that this period was dominated by restorative trends rather than by revolutionary ones. What does this all mean for Russia? First and foremost, in decision-makers in the Kremlin should have cast away all illusions that Russia's problems with the West would disappear on the back of the radical changes taking place within the West itself.

The assumption that Moscow's main task was to wait out this period in global politics, which, although extremely unpleasant for Russia, might appear to be short-lived, turned out to be highly questionable. In , it became apparent that the Kremlin had no guaranteed advantage in short- and mid-term planning over the West. The Russian leadership had to plan for a marathon, not a sprint, and it was by no means a given that Moscow was better equipped to last out this contest than its Western opponents.

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The upheavals of the past few years might not have completely cut down the snobbish, overconfident and not entirely perspicacious European bureaucrats and strategists, but they may at least have forced them to come down to earth. For the sake of the future of the European project, Brussels and other European capital cities were actively looking for new EU development paths, discussing possible solutions to key issues of political and economic reforms and plans to reform the key European institutions.

Can we say in earnest that in Russia was discussing the future of the Russian project with the same zealousness, breadth and intensity? It is of course possible that skeptics will soon mount another attack on the European Union, and that pro-Russian leaders will come to power in one or two European countries.

It is also possible that Trump will manage to win a tactical victory over the Deep State, minimizing the practical implementation of new anti-Russian sanctions. A new major armed conflict in the Middle East could distract the West from its confrontation with Russia, or global political instability could lead to a steep oil price hike. However, building a strategy on such premises is akin to planning a family budget in hope of a hefty lottery win.

Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship

The unpredictability of international developments should not justify the absence of a cohesive strategy, especially when one has to deal with an opponent who is far superior in terms of overall economic, social and military attributes of power. In addition, it is now becoming clear that Russia will not be able to engage in strategic interaction with the Trump administration while leaving the disintegrating EU by the wayside.

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So far, the opposite has been true. It appears that in the foreseeable future, Russia cannot hope for much more than tactical interaction with the United States on a limited set of issues, such as Syria, North Korea, the Arctic and nuclear non-proliferation. If Moscow is particularly lucky, it might expand this list to add strategic stability, the fight against global terrorism and certain other problems.

However, cooperation with the Americans on the creation of a new world order is no longer possible. The firmness of the anti-Russian consensus in Washington is indisputable; splitting this consensus will take a very long time, if it happens at all. Very few people in Moscow today believe that the decisions on anti-Russian sanctions made in Washington in are likely to be reconsidered anytime soon. What is currently happening in U. The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more promising for Russia.

In order to overcome its numerous problems and ailments, the European Union will inevitably have to revise many of its existing mechanisms, procedures and priorities, and even, to an extent, its rules and principles. Russia could assist with the European Union's transformation for its own benefit by supporting a stronger Europe and abstaining from patronizing anti-European parties and movements across the continent. In this case, it could hope to gradually expand cooperation with Europe, on the con-dition that at least some minimal progress is achieved on Ukraine, which is central to Russia-EU relations.

This does not imply that fundamental disagreements between Moscow and Brussels will cease to exist. The worldview of the current political leadership in the Kremlin is not going to change; an ideological revolution in the European Union is no more likely. In the observable future Russia will not become a part of the European project. Nevertheless, this division does not preclude various forms of cooperation similar to these during the s or s.

Since no revolution took place in global politics in , practical solutions need to be sought in the framework of the existing system of political coordinates; more grandiose plans have to wait. The old model of geopolitical confrontation between East and West, i. This model is certainly far from ideal, it is expensive and to a great extent outdated.

Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship
Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship
Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship
Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship
Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship Russia and the European Union: Prospects for a New Relationship

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