Can Russia move from “Great Europe and Asia” to “Great Europe”

The annual G7 summit will be held in France this weekend. On the eve of the summit, French host President Mark Long invited Russian President Putin to visit France. Before the meeting, Mark Long told the media that Russia is a European country and he is full of confidence in the construction of Europe extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Putin also responded that he hopes to work with Europe towards this goal. The close interaction between the French and Russian leaders robbed the G7 summit and made some observers think of the “big Europe” concept.

The “Greater Europe” concept from Lisbon to Vladivostok originated from French President Charles de Gaulle. During his visit to Germany in September 1962, Charles de Gaulle said that “one day, we will build Europe together with the Soviet Union.” This sentence is both for the Soviet Union and for the United States. It is intended to show the independence and openness of French diplomacy. Sex. De Gaulle refers to Europe from Lisbon to the Urals. Later, Gorbachev extended on this basis and proposed the establishment of a “common European home” from Lisbon to Vladivostok. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, in the debate about where Russia was going, Eurocentrism (also known as Atlanticism or pro-Westernism) gained an advantage in the competition with Slavicism and Eurasianism, reaching its peak in the Yeltsin era. However, the big European picture envisaged by Russia and the European Union is different. Russia wants to be in the Western world and is on an equal footing with the West. The EU hopes to expand into the post-Soviet region and prevent Russia from resuming the Soviet Union. This is doomed to the fact that the “Greater Europe” concept has sharp contradictions at the geopolitical level.

After the Crimean incident, the West imposed economic sanctions on Russia and continued to exert political pressure. Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated in an all-round way, and Russia has had to give up the “Greater Europe” concept of pursuing many years. Putin’s “strategist” Surkov’s words exemplified the Russian elite’s nostalgia and disappointment with Europe. He said that Russia participated in most of the wars in Europe and also won and saved European countries, but when Russia needed help, no European countries lend a helping hand. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia once again went to Europe, but Europe could not accommodate Russia because Russia was “too big and frightening”, even though Russia has greatly reduced its territory and showed obedience in the face of the West. Still not accepted by Europe.

Although the “Greater Europe” concept has been replaced by the “Greater Europe” concept in Russia, quite a few people in the West still believe that Russia will return to Greater Europe sooner or later. Because Eurocentrism has a deep-rooted influence in Russia. Europe and the United States are the top priority of Russian diplomacy. They have always been listed as the priority only after the CIS region in Russia’s foreign policy concept. In the past, Russia has never really implemented a double-headed eagle diplomacy that emphasizes both things. Many Russian scholars frankly rely on the East to rely on the West. What’s more, the concept of “Greater Europe and Asia” does not exclude cooperation with Europe. In a sense, it is a expanded version of the original big European concept. In the picture of the “Great Europe and Asia” concept presented by Russia, the protagonist is a protagonist. The Russians between the East and the West look back to Europe from time to time in the process of moving east.

After the United States successfully used the Ukrainian crisis to break through the gap between Russia and Europe, Russia has never given up its efforts to ease relations with the West. Russia’s choice is to break through Europe, especially Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which have relatively good relations with Russia. Waiting for the country. In the near future, in contrast to the continued strength of US-Russian relations, Russia’s breakout in the European direction has made significant progress. In June 2019, the European Commission resumed Russia’s voting rights in the parliamentary assembly. Russia’s diplomatic move shows that Russia does not want to continue to confront the West, and the sooner it is normalized with the West, the better. Therefore, Putin expressed his willingness to communicate with partners within the G7 framework when meeting with the media.

In fact, “Great Europe” or “Greater Europe and Asia” are only grand ideas. What Russia is most concerned about at the moment is when the West will lift sanctions against Russia, ease relations with the West, and even normalize. So, can Russia achieve this wish? Mark Long’s re-emergence of Europe may be due to more than one aspect: Europe is suffering from refugee crisis and populism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she will no longer seek re-election, and her personal health has repeatedly warned. Britain’s new prime minister, Boris Johnson, is still unsettled and has to deal with the mess of Brexit. The Italian government is in crisis. This is a good opportunity for France to voice the role of European leaders; US President Trump waved his stick to European allies, demanding that they increase NATO military spending, buy US weapons, launch trade wars against the EU, and strengthen peer-to-peer with some Eastern European countries. The military cooperation to divide the EU, which forced Mark Long to take the lead in proposing the construction of a European common defense system; the West’s policy of isolation and sanctions against Russia did not play a role, and Putin always maintained a tough stance and did not make any concessions on the Ukrainian issue. For Mark Long, instead of Russia’s “wandering outside”, it is better to frame Russia in a multilateral framework such as the G8 in order to regulate Russia’s internal and external diplomatic behavior. In addition, the Ukrainian crisis has been dragged on for a long time, and the deterioration of relations with Russia is also unfavorable to France. In view of this, Mark Long actively promotes the easing of relations with Russia, and the positive interaction between Russia and France will continue in the future, which will certainly play a positive role in the normalization of Russia-Europe relations.

If Russia wants to improve its relations with the West, the attitude of the United States is crucial because the EU is subject to the United States on issues such as security. However, the improvement of US-Russia relations is far more complicated than that of Europe-Russia relations. In the United States, the Russian issue is both a diplomatic issue and an internal issue. The US political elite has reached an unprecedented consensus on the issue of containing Russia. Trump has just experienced the torment of “TongRumen” and is currently focusing on preparing for the 2020 presidential election.

Generally speaking, candidates who are in power before the election should not significantly adjust their foreign policy. Therefore, Trump’s statement about supporting Russia’s return to the G8 may not be a well-thought-out statement. Even if Russia returns to the G8, issues between Russia and the West, including interference in Russia’s internal affairs, the China-Guide Treaty, Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela are not easy to resolve.

The Ukrainian issue is the cause of the Western sanctions against Russia and one of the key points in the relationship between Russia and the West. After Zelensky won the election, there have been some positive changes in Russia-Ukraine relations, and both sides are interested in restarting the Normandy four-party talks mechanism. The direct reason for Western sanctions against Russia – the Crimean issue is not currently included in any multilateral consultative mechanism, and has in fact been shelved by the big powers. All parties have adopted the New Minsk Agreement as the key to resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. However, in fact, the agreement itself has many problems. The most important thing is that it has no clear sequence of obligations to the parties in fulfilling the provisions of the provisions. Also lacks binding. In the future, with the launch of the Normandy four-party talks mechanism and the start of the Russia-Ukraine dialogue, the conflict in eastern Ukraine may have progressed, but it is more reflected in the ceasefire, the exchange of prisoners of war, and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. It is still very difficult to solve the problem completely.

Based on such history and reality, and that Asia is becoming the center of the world economy, China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners, and Russia has a natural advantage in carrying out European and Asian diplomacy. Therefore, Russia returns to Europe, both objectively and subjectively. It can be said that it is difficult and long.

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