Boisterous Russia in emerging Europe

Published date01 November 2017
Date01 November 2017
AuthorMatthew Olatubosun Aihonsu
Practitioner Paper
Boisterous Russia in emerging Europe
Matthew Olatubosun Aihonsu*
School of Arts and Social Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria
Russia is permanently at a crossroads in its history, or standing in exasperation at a fork in the road but failing to re-
solve a geographical, historical and metaphysical dilemma: is Russia part of Europe or not? Russia holds a key but
vulnerable strategic position in the heartland of Eurasia. Its geographical existence within a larger zone of Eurasian
civilization meant that Russian culture had been shaped to a not insignicant extent by inuences coming from Asia,
that Russia was Eurasian and not European not only by virtue of its cultural patterns but also in terms of anthropo-
logicalracial considerations as well. The Eurasian Customs Union is clearly seen by Russia as a vehicle for
reintegrating the post-Soviet space, including the countries that fall within the sphere of the European Unions
(EU)s eastern neighbourhood.
The Eurasian Customs Union is the vehicle through which Russia increasingly engages in normative rivalrywith
the EU in the so-called shared neighbourhood. These geopolitical and economic contraptions underpin the strategic
calculations that have inuenced largely the crisis of Russian Lebensraum escapade in Ukraine and EUs reaction.
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Russia is a key actor in the United Nations
Security Council and, due to history, geographic
proximity and cultural links, is one of the key
The break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a
geopolitical earthquake that redrew the map of
Europe and Central Asia. In his state-of-the-nation
address, in April 2005, Russias President Vladimir
Putin went so far as to describe it as the biggest
geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.
Russia holds a key but vulnerable strategic posi-
tion in the heartland of Eurasia. Firstly, an arc of
instability (a zone of present and inevitably future
unrest in the coming deca des) runs along its
southern border from the larger Middle East
towards northeas t Asia. Secondly, its geographi cal
position aggravates the post-imperial crisis of
identity. The furtive Russian military intervention
into the Crimea is a di rect reaction to the uncoor-
dinated triple expansion
of North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union
(EU) plus American/European defence and politi-
cal economic interests and military infrastructure
into the so-called Russian near abroad.This
uncoordinated triple expansion has been coun-
tered by Russian effo rts to check both NA TO and
EU enlargement, a t the same time that M oscow
has been seeking to build step by step a new
Eurasian geostrategic and political economic
alliance in the aftermath of Soviet collapse. This
rebuilding of Russia has involved the formation
of the Collective Security Treaty Organization,
Eurasia Customs Union (ECU) and Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (leading to closer
RussianChinese security and defence cooperation
since 2005).
On the triple expansion, see Hall Gardner, NATOExpansion and
US Strategy in Asia (New York: Palgrave, 2013.
*Correspondence to: MatthewOlatubosun Aihonsu, Schoolof Arts
and Social Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria, 14/16,
Ahmadu BelloWay, Victoria Island,Lagos 100001, Nigeria.
BBC, Putin deplores collapse of USSR, 25 April 2005, http://
Journal of Public Affairs
Volume 17 Number 4 e1602 (2017)
Published online 4 February 2016 in Wiley Online Library
( DOI: 10.1002/pa.1602
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 1 of 7

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