The Russia - USA - EU “Triangle” and Smaller States in 2003-2004
Volume 3, Issue 1 (2005), pp. 115–139
Pub. online: 1 December 2005 Type: Article Open Access
1 December 2005
1 December 2005
The purpose of this paper is to assess the development of relations between Russia and the two Western power centres, the United States of America and the European Union, in 2003 - 2004. It goes without saying that it would be quite problematic and risky to formulate an unequivocal evaluation of this dynamic phenomenon. The author, however, sought to identify and determine the key trends of development. This was done through a search for answers to more specific questions: what was the strategy of Russia’s foreign policy, how did it interact with the goals and aspirations of the USA and EU, and, finally, toward what - convergence or alienation - did evolve the dialogue between the global power centres that are of greatest importance for the Central and Eastern European countries.
These tasks have dictated the trinomial structure of the paper. The first part deals with the changes in the Russian foreign policy strategy in recent years. It shows how, upon sensible assessment of its opportunities, Russia abandoned its former rush-about and concentrated on the inclusion of the CIS states (the Ukraine in particular) in its political orbit. The second and the third part of the paper analyse the peculiarities and ups and downs of Russia’s relations with the USA and the EU respectively. Despite certain variations, the development of these relations increasingly shows signs of alienation and cooling, which were partly masked by the intention of the EU larger Member States, in particular of the Germany, to maintain good relations with Russia at any cost. Finally, a brief overview of the culminating event in the Russian-Western relations - the Ukrainian “orange revolution” - is presented at the end of the paper, supplemented by a broader summarisation of the period under consideration. The underlying idea of the summary is that the so-called “value gap” has been widening in the Russian-Western relations in recent years. It forms a basis for supposing that in the future the pressures between the West and Russia should increase despite the pragmatic nature of their relations. The situation might only be changed by democratic changes in Russia itself, which at present seems hardly probable.