Beyond the Involution of Europe? Monism and Relations with Russia. Part 2

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The crisis in relations between Russia and the European Union (EU) is part of the broader breakdown of the post-Cold War security order. This essay focuses on structural interpretation and identifies four interlinked processes shaping the crisis: tension between the logic of the enlargement and transformation; a dynamic of involution and resistance; the problem of monism, whereby the expanding self is unable adequately to engage with the un-integrated other; and the recent emergence of ‘other Europes’ that may potentially overcome involution. The erosion of the Atlantic system provides an opportunity for delayed institutional and ideational innovation. Based on the methodology of classical realism and modern constructivist theories, the author analyzes how the lack of mutual understanding and mistakes in understanding the intentions and actions of Russia, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, led to deep structural and cognitive contradictions that managed to renew confrontation between the Euro-Atlantic bloc and Russia. The author comes to the conclusion that the impossibility of implementing the “Greater Europe” project with the participation of Russia led to a deepening of the contradictions between Russia and the West, and also forced Moscow to look for an alternative to European integration in the “Greater Eurasia” project. At the same time, the European Union also entered a crisis stage, as evidenced by Brexit.

About the authors

Richard Sakwa

University of Kent

Author for correspondence.

PhD, professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent (United Kingdom)


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