Готовое решение [rms] Corporation
+7(8442) 96-64-69
400066 г. Волгоград, ул. Мира, 15 (для почтовой корреспонденции до 30 сентября 2023 года. После этой даты адрес офиса сменится. Пожалуйста, обращайтесь по адресу e-mail)

Russia and Europe: What Future for the European Security Architecture?

Demid Rybakov, MA 

Russia and Europe: What Future for the European Security Architecture?  

 In this short essay, the author would like to give an overlook of the history of European security and Russia’s place in it as well as the last ten years in Euro-Atlantic diplomacy and politics, trying to answer two questions: is it possible to have Russia in Europe? If yes, on what terms?  

There is no doubt that the question I put as this essay's title shows hardly any originality or literary taste. Indeed, the matter of Russia’s relations with the rest of Europe, albeit represented primarily by the EU, NATO, OSCE Member States or other states or groups of countries, has been in great demand recently. The main reason may lie in the fact that, since the start of this century, Russia has challenged the existing European consensus several times. Moreover, in the OSCE area, all the ‘frozen’ conflicts ignited at the collapse of the Soviet Union provoked Russia’s involvement and, in a way, ensured its diplomatic and military presence in the regions concerned. Finally, the initial topic has become even more relevant with the outbreak, in February 2022, of a wave of hostilities in Ukraine, yet unprecedented since the start of the conflict in 2014. 

However, we cannot change geography and, therefore, while taking into account the reality of the current circumstances, I would like to reflect on the place of Russia in the European security architecture. In other words, I would like to reflect Russia in Europe. What is her place in the future, seen from the current disastrous conjuncture? 

The current conflicts on the peripheries between the Euro-Atlantic Alliance and Russia are a continuation of the long history of relations between Moscow and the rest of Europe. Furthermore, having become, by the end of the XIX century a unique example of a socially homogenous Land Empire, Russia has since retained most of its advantages despite instability.[1] So, when the Soviet Empire collapsed, Western Europe and the United States had to deal not with a fraction of an empire, but with its centre that had preserved the resources that made it the empire it used to be.[2]  

So, it is with that kind of country that OSCE, NATO, and the EU had to deal with in 1991. In that period already tensions began to grow as both Russia and NATO started asserting power in the regions of common concern: the Caucasus and the Balkans. Despite their renewed image, Russia’s leadership perceived the country as the empire it used to be, keeping imperial sensibilities[3]. The European Union, in particular, faced a dilemma: isolate Russia and let it go alone or bring it into a system of cooperation that may influence its institutions, populations and decision-making.[4]  That is how, after its bloody beginnings, the new Russia that emerged from the ashes of the old rival was accepted by the Euro-Atlantic states in order to create a safe and predictable common security architecture on the continent. To that end the European Union devised a commune strategy – the first of its kind – towards Russia, whereas NATO went further institutionally, initiating NATO-Russia Council. Given the place that Russia had already at that time in the frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet area (South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria), the country’s involvement in those projects as well as in the OSCE was considered necessary to bring equilibrium and legitimacy to the organisations' actions in the conflicts where Russia would take a side backing a specific party. 

Finally, that chain of frozen conflicts and colour revolutions brought Europe to the summit of tension with Russia – Ukraine, where the Russian government saw the highest priority for its foreign policy in Europe. Once again, misunderstanding and unwillingness to discuss matters of common concern more pragmatically, both parties kept their own views and carried on regardless: where the majority of OSCE Member States saw a blatant violation of international law, Russia saw a necessary act of protection of the Russian-speaking minority. Russia and Europe have been looking at the conflict from “two different perspectives”.[5] The next six years saw little progress in diplomatic negotiations. One could even say that, on the whole, most actors were content with that becoming another frozen conflict.  Finally, Navalny’s poisoning and arrest in 2020 removed any illusion in the West – there cannot be a fruitful dialogue before a significant change in Russia. 

Indeed, there has been a change in Russia and, as I write these last lines, a new offensive is being prepared in Eastern Ukraine. So, how to plan Russia’s place in the future of European security architecture?

Two things are certain: first, Russia will remain crucial for the future of European security; in the short-term perspective, it is impossible to see how Russia would foster European security together with the rest of Europe. A lot will depend on the results of the military action in Ukraine. It is clear that we are moving towards the most complex frozen conflict of the Post-Soviet sphere. However, such conflict is never frozen. Only the degree of hostilities changes. Therefore, it is essential to bring a comprehensive solution that would include all the parties concerned. By the end of the hostilities, Russia will face an EU that is more consolidated around NATO, building its own capacities, and uniting its members within the structure of NATO. The West will face a ravaged Ukraine that would need resources for reconstruction. Moreover, the rapprochement within the Western world may provoke its isolation in regions where the war was clearly not as topical as in Europe.

All in all, there will be no trust and a range of problems that could be only tackled collectively. It could be argued that in the present circumstances, the OSCE may have the necessary neutral nature to bring the war to a conclusion that would include as many stakeholders as possible: global, national, and regional. 

Therefore, I find that even though there is little prospect of fully-fledged cooperation after the end of the conflict in Ukraine, the scope of hostilities and the price of inaction that Europe is paying must push all the actors of European security towards a sustainable solution. It is not going to be a war to end all wars but it may bring Europe to a different level of reflection. 

In fact, Russia will remain where it is in terms of geography and, therefore, it will share European challenges. At the same time, in terms of common solutions for frozen conflicts and European security architecture, cooperation is necessary but impossible in the foreseeable future. That, however, may change when there is a new tenant in the Kremlin.

[1] Lieven, Dominic. "The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as Imperial Polities." Journal of Contemporary History 30, n° 4 (Octobre 1995), pp. 607-36 http://www.jstor.org/stable/261085

[2] Idem.

[3] Bordatchev, Timofey, interview via  Zoom, 15 April 2021.

[4] Wilde, Tanguy de, “UE-Russie: de la coopération dans la divergence à la rupture”, Revue Generale nº2 – été 2022

[5] Interview with Hon. Amb. François Roux, Egmont, Brussels, 15 July 2022

06 июля 2023
42 просмотра
Используя этот сайт, вы соглашаетесь на использование файлов cookie