New ‘dividing lines’ in Europe: A crisis of trust in European–Russian

Andrey Kazantsev
, Richard Sakwa
Moscow State Institute of International Relations, 76 Vernadskiy Prospect, 119454 Moscow, Russian Federation
School of Politics & International Relations, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NX, UK
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Available online 4 August 2012
European–Russian relations
Russian domestic and foreign policy
The new Cold War and Cold Peace theories
EU policy towards Russia
a b s t r a c t
The paper presents the materials of the special issue “Institutions, Networks and Trust in
European–Russian relations” offering various interdisciplinary perspectives on EU–Russia
relations. The positions of the authors of the special edition are analysed in the context of
both Western and Russian literature on EU–Russia relations. This analysis is conducted
within the framework of close to Constructivism “security community” approach
that stresses the role of common interests, shared values, communications, interpersonal
contacts and trust in overcoming conflicts. In this context, the emergence of new ‘dividing
lines’ in Europe is considered as the result of crisis of trust and institutional crisis in EU–
Russia relations. From this point of view the recent literature on the roots of European–
Russian conflict, on connections between Russian domestic and foreign policy, on
value-interest dilemma in Western–Russian relations, on the new Cold War/Cold Peace
theory, on the structure of EUpolicy towards Russia and internal splits inside EUis reviewed.
Ó 2012 The Regents of the University of California. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights
Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who ended the Cold War, stated in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais in 2009,
that twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall ‘dividing lines’ between Russia and the West still exist (Twenty Years Later,
2009). Charles de Gaulle’s vision of Europe fromthe Atlantic ocean to the Ural mountains (‘L’Europe de l’Atlantique à l’Oural’)
has not yet come to pass, irrespective of the hopes that existed in the late 1980s–early 1990s and then periodically reap-
peared, for example, during the period of intensive cooperation between Russia and the West in the global war on terror
(2001–2002). Today the issue of invisible dividing lines dividing the EU and Russia is still important. In the EU the issue of
Russia’s ‘threat’ to European military and energy security is intensively discussed. The use of the metaphor of the new ‘Cold
War’ has been given extensive coverage in the Western press (Lucas, 2008). In Russia the term ‘dividing lines in Europe’ is
widely used in official discourse, and has been since at least the period when discussion began on NATO enlargement to the
former Warsaw pact countries. The official foreign concept of Russia (2008) calls for building a truly unified Europe without
dividing lines (The foreign policy concept, 2008). However, at various times anti-Western rhetoric in the semi-official Russian
press (especially during the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008) becomes quite shrill. It has even appeared in
official statements of the Russian leadership on such issues as energy security, general security and relations with the former
Soviet republics. A specific type of political delicacy prevalent in Moscow encourages Russian politicians to use the term
‘dividing lines’ only in reference to NATO, thus emphasizing the anti-trans-Atlantic and not the anti-European aspect of the
term. Sometimes, according to the logic of Russian official rhetoric, the ‘old’ Europe, i.e. the early EUmembers (which Moscow
* Corresponding author. Moscow State Institute of International Relations, 76 Vernadskiy Prospect, 119454 Moscow, Russian Federation.
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Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 289–293
wishes to accommodate most) and the ‘new’ Europe, or the new EU members, mostly former Soviet satellites, are also
opposed. However, Transatlantic and European solidarity, which Moscow understands, makes this ‘politically correct’ use of
the term simply a euphemism. De facto, this is a recognition that new stable dividing lines exist between the EU and Russia.
These dividing lines, as well as the crisis of trust and institutional crisis in European–Russian relations that prevent the
amelioration of relations, were the subject of a special conference on ‘Institutions, Networks and Trust’ organized by the
European University Institute (Florence, Italy) in March 2010. This special edition of the journal Communist and Post-
Communist studies is based on the papers presented during this conference. The aim of the event was to offer various
interdisciplinary perspectives on EU–Russia relations from the point of view of IR, area studies, foreign policy analysis,
network studies, comparative political science, political anthropology and political economy. This is an ambitious agenda, and
we hope that at least the first steps have been taken in its fulfilment. The papers collected in this issue examine European–
Russian relations in the context of the literature studying these relations. Below, we will analyse the positions of the authors
of the special edition in the context of both Western and Russian literature on EU–Russia relations.
Taking into account the complex character of Russia–EU relations, where different security, economic and identity
problems are interconnected, the ‘security community’ approach stresses the role of common institutions, values, the
development of communications, information exchanges and the promotion of trust in prevention of conflicts (Deutsch et al.,
1957; Adler and Barnett, 1998). This approach approaches the constructivist position (Wendt, 1999), and is certainly appli-
cable to this case. From the point of view of ‘security community’ theory, a stable peace is not guaranteed and the Cold War
can return at any moment if Russia and EU do not form a stable community with shared values, a sense of community based
on mutual sympathy, trust, and common interests. The evolution of separate and, in many respects (for example, from the
point of viewof key values) hostile identities in the contemporary EU and Russia is a negative phenomenon fromthis point of
view. The articles of Peter Rutland and Richard Sakwa below discuss this identity issue from different perspectives. Richard
Sakwa studies the problem of inclusion/exclusion in the formation of contemporary European identity. This identity at
present opposes the countries of EU to Russia and Turkey as two European outsiders; non-European powers situated,
paradoxically, in Europe. Peter Rutland’s article analyses the influence of globalization on the evolution of Russia’s identity
and the role of Europe in developing different aspects of this identity.
The ‘security community’ approach stresses the role of communications and interpersonal contacts in overcoming
conflicts. Therefore, it is very important to take into account multiple interpersonal and migration contacts between Russia
and EU. Analysis of this issue from the point of view of the formation of contemporary Russian identity is also examined in
Rutland’s contribution. The question of migration (mostly the migration of Russian intellectuals) is given extended analysis in
Andrei Korobkov’s article.
The majority of scholars argue that the roots of Western–Russian and European–Russian conflicts are lying in the
divergence of values. This is taken to be the outcome of domestic developments in Putin’s Russia, above all the concentration
of power and economic resources in the Kremlin, notably in the formation of the administrative ‘vertical of power’. Even
before Putin’s presidency, observers noted the development of ‘fake structures’ in the post-Soviet world. Everything seemed
to be a simulacrum of itself: democracy (Wilson, 2005), economic achievements (Gaddy and Ickes, 2002), and the role of
regional organizations in foreign policy (Allison, 2008). Such a policy of ‘faking’ in the international context is inevitably
perceived as cheating, provokes a crisis of trust towards Moscow.
Putin’s leadership enormously contributed to this tendency and, therefore, his inevitable return to presidential position and the
disappearance of Putin–Medvedev “tandem” in 2012 may contribute to further deterioration of Russian–Western and Russian–
European relations. The most important factor exacerbating the divergence of Russian and European values was the spread of
informal institutions in Russia, which proved highly subversive of democracy. A detailed analysis can be found in Vladimir
Gelman’s article. Richard Sakwa has even formulated the concept of the ‘dual state’ to describe the relations between the
formal apparatus of the constitutional state and the administrative vertical of power, which in many respects undermines the
democratic norms of the 1993 Constitution (Sakwa, 2011). The development of Russia’s informal institutions in the economic
sphere significantly contributed to the emergence of problems in Russia’s relations with the EU, notably in the sphere of
energy security. An opaque system of corrupt network connections between Russian and European agents developed, which
are examined in Andrei Kazantsev’s article. The instability of property relations in post-Soviet Russia harmed the interests of
Western investors, notably in the Sakhalin-2 project, and this greatly contributed to the crisis of trust towards Russia.
The Spanish analyst Jose Ignacio Torreblanca has written that even such basic terms as freedom now have a different
meaning for Europeans and Russians. He notes that ‘Due to the traumatic experiences of 1917 and 1991, when internal
changes led to significant losses of territory and humiliation by other powers, Russia’s ruling elite now uses a concept of
freedom different from that in normal usage: internally, freedom to choose the political regime without interference;
externally, freedom to act without constraint by others (especially by US unilateralism); and the economic freedom (not
necessarily liberalism) to achieve a degree of prosperity sufficient to sustain a strong state. Viewed in these terms, in which
democracy is seen as a synonym of weakness and chaos, it is easier to understand Russian behaviour in recent years’
(Torreblanca, 2010). It is on this basis that the Russian leadership in the Putin period used traditional Realist (and even
Realpolitik) IR arguments to manage its international affairs.
This underscores the fact that Russia has tried to build its relations with the West (this includes both the USA and the EU)
not on the basis of common values but on the basis of common interests. Such an approach worked in relations between Putin
and the Bush administration in 2001–2002 due to enormous Russian assistance to the USAduring the invasion of Afghanistan.
However, the deterioration of relations that followed was very quick. The 2007 report of American Council on Foreign
A. Kazantsev, R. Sakwa / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 289–293 290
Relations ‘Russia’s Wrong Direction: What the United States Can and Should Do’, examined this value-interest dilemma and
declared that ‘If Russia remains on an authoritarian course, U.S.–Russian relations will almost certainly continue to fall short
of their potential’ (The Council on Foreign Relations, 2007, pp. 70–71). If the difference of values harms US–Russian relations,
it is even more damaging for EU–Russia relations, taking into account the EU’s self-perception as a ‘normative power’
(Manners, 2002). ‘A prominent feature of the EU’s self-definition is the affirmation of its internal adherence to and external
promotion of particular norms and values’ (Wood, 2009b).
In addition to domestic developments in Russia, the second main reason for the deterioration of EU–Russian relations is,
according to the opinion of the majority of Western experts, Russia’s revisionist policy (Bremmer, 2009). Richard Sakwa in his
article belowargues that this argument does not accurately reflect the real complexity of Russian foreign policy and proposes
another term – ‘neo-revisionism’. However, it is not only Russia that is responsible for the crisis in European–Russian rela-
tions. In the literature one can find two arguments that stress the lack of efficacy of EU policy towards Russia. Much of the
European literature on the subject advances the argument, on the basis of divergent and often directly contradictory
differences in approach towards Russia by different European states, the EU has failed to produce a unified and coherent
policy towards Moscow. The same phenomenon is also apparent within NATO. It is hardly surprising that the Kremlin (like the
Bush administration in Washington) prefers to make deals with those Europeans who are most inclined to cooperate with
Russia, while simply ignoring the complaints of the others.
In Russia, a different point of view is prevalent. This argues that, too often, instead of dialogue with Russia and genuine
attempt to understand Russian concerns, the Brussels bureaucracy simply prefers to impose its own standards on Moscow
without taking into account the ability of Russia’s economic and social system to comply with these standards. This is most
often expressed in the form of criticism towards the EU covering many dimensions, including energy security (the Energy
Charter Treaty), security (European criticism of Russian actions in the North Caucasus), and alleged Russian attempts to
dominate the post-Soviet space. It is on this basis that many Russian experts and policy-makers examine the negative aspects
of the EU being a ‘normative power’ internationally. As a result, Moscow prefers to deal with nation-states, who have
concrete interests, not with the EU as a whole, an entity that is sometimes perceived to be a loose grouping of states endowed
with only general norms and values defended by the Brussels bureaucracy. From this point of view Russian criticism of EU
resembles in some respects the criticism of British Eurosceptics (see the justification of this Russian argument in Richard
Sakwa’s article).
The disappearance of mutual trust in European–Russian relations is underlined by the popularity of the metaphor of the
new Cold War in the West (Lucas, 2008). The basic argument suggests that the present condition of European–Russian
relations is comparable to the situation that existed during the Cold War. The notion of a ‘Cold Peace’ is another metaphor of
the same period that is directly related to discussion of a new Cold War (Bugajski, 2004). The atmosphere is redolent of the
period that preceded the full-scale onset of the Cold War two generations ago. This is how Time magazine in 1952 described
howthe phrase ‘Cold Peace’ had appeared: ‘A newphrase, reflecting a newmood, was crossing Europe last week: Cold Peace.
As Cold War means sustained hostility short of World War III, a Cold Peace means a sustained truce without a settlement. The
mood, which was latent and unexpressed, suddenly popped into the open and is now, reported the London Observer, “the
main topic of informed political conversation all over Europe” (Communists, 1952)’. The metaphor of a new Cold War/Cold
Peace has a positive side. It can serve as a warning to all sides about what could happen if the divergence of values and
interests between Russia, on the one hand, and the USA and the EU, on the other hand, continues.
However, such language also has very significant shortcomings. First, it does not encompass the complexity of current
EU–Russian and Western–Russian relations. It distorts the reality by greatly simplifying the great density of contacts and
interactions, and the great deal of constructive work that is being achieved. In practice, one can depict the glass as half empty
and half full simultaneously, or to use the termfirst coined by Leon Trotsky in 1918, ‘neither war, nor peace’. In fact, Russian–
Western relations are still a mixed story of conflicts (the most vivid of them is in the sphere of energy security disputes,
especially in the context of the Russian–Ukrainian gas conflicts of 2005–2006 and 2009, together with the Russo-Georgian
war of August 2008) and cooperation (Russian assistance for American operations in Afghanistan and later in establishing an
Afghanistan transit channel in the form of the Northern Supply Route, cooperation on North Korean and Iranian nuclear
agendas in the UN, the New START agreement, and effective cooperation between Russia and such European countries as
Germany, Italy and France). Second, the new Cold War rhetoric is an extremely unhelpful practical guide for Western policy-
makers. It serves as a self-fulfilling negative prophesy. If the West starts treating Russia as if there is a new Cold War, many
elements of the Cold war will inevitably re-emerge. Third, taking into account political uncertainty in Russia itself, the New
Cold war approach adopted by the West can assist the conservative anti-Western forces in Russia and harm the fragile
tendency towards development of pro-modernization domestic policies and more pro-Western foreign policies that
appeared in Russia as a result of combination of President Barack Obama’s ‘reset’ policy and the hardships of the global
economic crisis. As Dmitri Trenin, the director of Moscow Carnegie Centre, wrote in November 2009: ‘As the current global
economic crisis has demonstrated, the model that Russia’s contemporary leaders have chosen – growth without develop-
ment, capitalism without democracy, and great-power policies without international appeal – cannot hold forever’ (Trenin,
2009). The positive result of changing Russian internal policy is the EU–Russia Partnership for Modernisation initiated in
2010. Moscow has also de facto renounced its former ‘energy superstate’ concept (Maslov, 2009), which damaged Russia–EU
The structure of EU policy towards Russia is very complex. This complexity includes two elements: transatlantic solidarity
as the key driver of EU security policy; and deep internal splits between EUmember states on Russian issues. First, taking into
A. Kazantsev, R. Sakwa / Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (2012) 289–293 291
account transatlantic solidarity, relations between the EU and Russia, especially in the sphere of security, cannot be
considered separately from EU–US and US–Russian relations. Therefore, in the security sphere there is a complex set of
relations in the triangle USA–EU–Russia, while in such dimensions of European–Russian relations as economic and cultural
(including identity issues) EU–Russia relations can be considered separately fromtransatlantic issues. This issue, as well as its
impact on Russian foreign policy dilemmas, is examined by Peter Rutland, below. Sometimes, the relations in the triangle
USA–EU–Russia provoke internal EU dissension towards Russia. For example, the term coined by Donald Rumsfeld to divide
‘NewEurope’ (the newEUmember-states) and ‘Old Europe’ (the old EUmember-states), which was extensively applied by the
Bush administration, contributed to the creation of ‘dividing lines’ within the EU itself. The countries of ‘Old Europe’, in
general, tend to treat Russia in a friendlier manner than the countries of ‘New Europe’.
Second, internal splits between EU member-states create tension between two levels: the level of EU foreign policy and
the level of national foreign policies. ‘Russia has emerged as the most divisive issue in the European Union since Donald
Rumsfeld split the European club into ‘new’ and ‘old’ member states. In the 1990s, EU members found it easy to agree on
a common approach to Moscow. They coalesced around a strategy of democratizing and westernizing a weak and indebted
Russia. That strategy is now in tatters. Soaring oil and gas prices have made Russia more powerful, less cooperative and above
all less interested in joining the West’ (Leonard and Popescu, 2007, p. 1). As a result, the Russian question has exposed the
internal structural weaknesses of the EU’s common foreign and security policy, hardly ameliorated by the adoption of the
Lisbon Treaty and the creation of an External Action Service. Already in 2007 the EU Commissioner for Trade, Peter Man-
delson, argued that ‘no other country reveals our differences as does Russia. This is a failure of Europe as a whole, not any
member state in particular’ (Mandelson, 2007). ‘Broadly speaking, the EU is split between two approaches.At one end of the
spectrumare those who viewRussia as a potential partner that can be drawn into the EU’s orbit through a process of ‘creeping
integration.’ They favour involving Russia in as many institutions as possible and encouraging Russian investment in the EU’s
energy sector, even if Russia sometimes breaks the rules. At the other end are member states, who see and treat Russia as
a threat. According to them, Russian expansionism and contempt for democracy must be rolled back through a policy of ‘soft
containment’ (Leonard and Popescu, 2007, p. 2).
The Russian foreign policy elite is also deeply split with respect to Moscow’s EU policy (as well as with respect to Russian
foreign policy in general). A survey of Russian foreign policy experts conducted by the Russian association of international
studies (RAMI) in 2008–2009 revealed three positions. A tiny group of ‘apologists of the official position’ simply followed
the official rhetoric of the leadership; a larger group of ‘idealists’ defended the pro-Western agenda; while the majority
group of ‘realists’ puts forward a variety of different and not always mutually agreed pragmatic positions (RAMI and IOP, 2009,
pp. 12–13). Russian government, semi-official press and foreign policy experts very often have radically different assessments
fromthose within of EUpolicies. The Energy Charter that the EUproposed to Russia as a regime regulating all energy relations
was especially widely criticized. For example, the well-known expert on energy geopolitics Yury Solozobov called it ‘An
energy charter for the colonization of Russia’ (Solozobov, 2006). The Russian view of energy as a weapon (Simonov, 2006,
2007), which was widespread when the concept of ‘energy super-power’ was popular in Moscow, also deeply contradicts
European approaches. The Russian political elite from the beginning extensively criticized the ‘Eastern Partnership’ program,
although in 2010–2011 the idea of developing trilateral cooperation between Russia, the EU and the Eastern partnership
countries is intensively discussed in Moscow.
Russia represents a major challenge for EUpolicy, taking into account the different character and styles of foreign policy of
Russia and EU. Peter Rutland belowanalyses this issue from the point of view of time orientation. As opposed to the EU, that
perceives itself as a ‘post-modern’, ‘institutional’, ‘normative’ power, and so (i.e. its time orientation is towards the future),
Russia fromEvgeny Primakov’s time is oriented towards the power politics of the great powers of the nineteenth century. The
Kremlin does not understand why it needs the EU in order to deal with European states. ‘Russia has sought to bilateralise both
its deals and its disputes with EUmember states, putting a strain on EU solidarity and making Russia the stronger power. This
is not part of a master plan to dismember the EU. It is, after all, natural for Moscow to deal with individual EU member states
because that is how it sees international politics – as a series of tête-à-têtes between great powers’ (Leonard and Popescu,
2007, pp. 13–14). This old-style Russian approach seems to work in some respects: ‘With an economy one-fifteenth of the
EU, a defence budget one-tenth of the 27 EU states, and less than a third of the population, it talks to the EU on equal terms. It
seriously hinders EU approaches to Ukraine, Central Asia, Kosovo, Iran and Georgia’ (Torreblanca, 2010). In some respects, this
Russian style can be compared to the Chinese style and can be considered as part of the general tendency for a return of the
authoritarian great powers that challenge Fukuyama-style ‘end of history’ ideas and places in doubt the future dominance of
liberal democracy (Gat, 2007).
The Kremlin’s approach to foreign policy, based on power relations, puts in doubt Brussels’ tendency to solve all inter-
national problems through constructing institutions and pushes the EUalso into the world of power politics (Wood, 2009a). It
imposes acute internal contradictions on the European polity (Hoogeveen and Perlot, 2007; Westphal, 2006). This can be
considered an institutional crisis in EU–Russia relations. The EU cannot solve its security problems with Russia either through
the OSCE or through the NATO–Russia Council. Energy security problems are not being solved through the Energy Charter
Treaty process and its Organization. Security and economic problems cannot be solved through standard institutionalized
forms of Russia–EU cooperation like the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA). The institutional crisis in EU–Russia
relations can also be considered as a crisis of the EU’s specific networking strategy (see below, Andrei Kazantsev’s article). The
use of inter-elite networks in EU–Russia relations can help to overcome some problems, but it also contributes to the EU’s
internal divisions and may undermine the rule of law in Europe.
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