In a new policy brief for the European Leadership Network, Dr Sergey Utkin highlights how Russia’s unique geographical heritage has shaped its relationship with Europe and ‘the West’. Russia is historically bound to, and culturally influenced by, Europe but it remains outside of ‘political Europe’.
Black and white assumptions of assimilation or malevolence have often failed to take into account the historical Russian perspective. Decisions taken over Europe’s future have increasingly taken place in institutions unavailable to Russian membership, such as the European Union and NATO. As NATO and EU enlarge, in steps viewed by the West as progress in democracy and human rights, Russia fears a loss of influence, forced limitation of its bilateral partnerships, and a challenge to security and stability.