Euro-Atlantic Relations in the XXI Century: Problems and Scenarios

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-59-11-31-37

N. Arbatova, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (


The Euro-Atlantic relations after the end of the Cold war have been strongly influenced by the impact of three interrelated crises: the existential crisis of NATO, the world economic and financial crisis, and the crisis in the Russia-West relations. The end of bipolarity has changed the threat environment and revealed how different alliance members formulate their threat perception and foreign policy interests. Europe stopped to be the US foreign policy priority. The US pivot to Asia has raised European concerns about American commitments to collective defense. The removal of the threat of a global conflict resulted in the EU initiatives aimed at promoting integration in the field of common security and defense policy (CSDP). Even though the US has officially welcomed a stronger European pillar in NATO, it has become concerned about new approaches that could divide transatlantic partnership and take resources away from military cooperation. At the same time the unilateralist preferences of the Bush administration generated deep political divisions between the United States and the European Union. The world economic and financial crisis contributed to a dangerous gulf between American and European defense spending. The US has complained about the tendency of the alliance’s European members to skimp on defense spending and take advantage of America’s security shield to free ride. In the absence of a clear external threat NATO tried to draft new missions, which were found in NATO’s expansion to the post-Communist space and Alliance’s out of area operations. But these new missions could not answer the main question about NATO’s post-bipolar identity. Moreover, the Kosovo operation of NATO in 1999 fueled Russia’s concerns about NATO’s intentions in the post-Soviet space. The creeping crisis in the Russia-West relations resulted in the Caucasus and Ukrainian conflicts that provided kind of glue to transatlantic relations but did not return them to the old pattern. There can be several representing possible futures lying ahead. But under any scenario EU will be faced with a necessity to shoulder more of the burden of their own security.


Cold war, trans-Atlantic relations, European security, European integration, common security and defense policy, NATO’s enlargement, world economic and financial crisis, Asia-Pacific region, Ukrainian conflict

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For citation:
Arbatova N. Euro-Atlantic Relations in the XXI Century: Problems and Scenarios. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2015, vol. 59, No 11, pp. 31-37.

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