Acknowledgements. The article was prepared within the project “Post-Crisis World Order: Challenges and Technologies, Competition and Cooperation” supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement ¹ 075-15-2020-783).
Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of the fundamental reasons that led to the crisis in relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union as well as relations between Russia and the West at large. The main attention is paid to both objective changes in international relations and subjective factors in the policies of Russia and the EU, that which predetermined the vector of evolution of their interaction. The article proposes a layer-by-layer analysis of these reasons, leading from a superficial perception of problems in depth to the origins of the current crisis. This method of analysis can be called the “matryoshka method”, when the main problem lies in the very depths of the phenomenon under study. In other words, the article proposes a “countdown” from the current crisis to the postbipolar start of cooperation between Russia and the European Union. Why did it all go wrong when it all started so well? And, finally, who is to blame for the failed partnership, and is it possible to get out of this deadlock? These and other questions are at the center of this article. The Ukraine conflict is widely perceived by the European Union and the West as whole as a turning point in their relations with the Russian Federation and the main reason of the deepest divide between them. However, this conflict is not so much the reason but rather the consequence of more profound contradictions between Russia and the West. These contradictions are revolving around the mutual misperceptions about the acceptable foundation of the post-bipolar European security and rivalry in the CIS space. The EU and NATO enlargement strategies presented by both institutions as two complementary processes raised Russia’s concerns about their intentions in the CIS region. But these contradictions did not appear from “the middle of nowhere”. They resulted from the uneven end of the bipolarity and mistakes made by the West and its institutions as well as miscalculations of the new Russian leadership. In the very centre of this “matryoshka doll” one can find the arguments explaining Russia’s historic convolutions on its way to Europe.
Keywords: Russia, European Union, USA, China, CIS, international relations, European security, Euro-Atlantic relations, EU and NATO enlargement, Ukrainian conflict, Caucasian crisis, peacekeeping operations, conflict
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