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Russia – Iran: Risks and Prospects

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President Putin’s visit to Iran ended November 1st had two key planes, the geopolitical and economic one. Both of them are interrelated, however, they have their direct objects, too. If politically the relations of Moscow and Tehran should be considered, first of all, in the context of the situation in Syria and Iraq and counteracting to the American policy, then economically the cooperation is sooner directed to the East, regarding Pakistan, India and China.

The key geopolitical aspect of the Russian-Iranian interaction is strengthening positions of Moscow and Tehran in the “Greater Middle East” (using the popular American term), as well as settlement of regional crises. For Russia, it is more Syria and to a smaller extent, Iraq. For Iran, besides the above countries, the situations in Yemen and Bahrain are also important as it is in a state of indirect war with Saudi Arabia and its allies under the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG).
In his speech about the Russian-Iranian interaction in the Syrian crisis, IRI president Hassan Rouhani specially underlined the fact of this format’s extending through Turkey inclusion. “It is very pleasant that, besides promoting bi-party relations, our countries play an important role in peacemaking and stability raising process in the region. One of the consequences of such relations is destruction of one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations. Three-party Corporation in the format of Russia — Iran — Turkey is an evidence that Syria is coming back to peace and stability”, the Iranian president said. (kremlin.ru)

Many Western mass media are even more open commencing Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran. “War in Syria has two-and-a-half winners: Russians under President Putin’s command, Iranians supervised by Hassan Rouhani and, as a half, Bashar Assad, head of Syria,” German Die Welt writes. [welt.de]
Of course, we can argue with the German edition as to the mathematics of War, but what is undoubted is the decisive role of Russia and Iran in defeating ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria, as well as the political influence of Turkey in the format of Astana settlement.

Turkey did not participate in the Russian-Iranian negotiations in Tehran, however its indirect representative is Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev who participated in a three party summit with his colleagues Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani. “Besides the issues of economic cooperation, we talked about regional cooperation, three-party cooperation between Iran, Russia and Turkey in this sphere,” the Iranian president commented on the results of three-party negotiations: “All three countries confirmed a necessity of regional stability, fight on terrorism, struggle on distribution of narcotic drugs and organized crime.” (kremlin.ru)

“The three-party cooperation is absolutely natural, as our people are linked with common history and geography. For centuries our people we’re in a close link with each other. A format of three-party cooperation means a lot for the regional security. I think that our successful cooperation plays a big role in providing security and stability in the region,” Ilham Aliyev said in his turn.

Still, when talking about improvements in Russian and Iranian cooperation, we must bear in mind the difference of interests and aims of Moscow and Tehran. The Iranian party considers such a cooperation, first of all, the military and political one, as a means of raising its own positions in the region, as well as a way to put pressure on the USA, including the russian-american controversies. The Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called to Moscow and Tehran to coordinate their actions in the international arena, in order to “isolate USA”. “Final settlement of the Syrian crisis requires better cooperation between Iran and Russia. As a result, we can isolate America and recover stability in the region,” Ali Khamenei said. (rbc.ru)

It seems that such approach and targets are not fully compatible with a wider and deeper character of external political interests of Russia. For Moscow here it is important to retain the balance between trying to deepen cooperation with Tehran and considering its other partners’ interests, both in the Middle East region and the Persian Gulf, as well as in Europe. In this relation, a very important subject was raised during a telephone call of Russian and French presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron that was initiated by the French party on the next day after Russian-Iranian negotiations ended. During this communication both countries leaders “made declarations in favor of a clearer implementation of the Joint comprehensive plan of actions on the Iranian nuclear program situation settlement” as well as underlined that “this important agreement cannot be reviewed unilaterally,” what US President Donald Trump calls to. (kremlin.ru)

The economic part of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran isn’t less important. Russian companies Gazprom and Rosneft participating in the Russian-Iranian talks also reached preliminary agreements on multi-billion contracts. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia and Iran are ready to sign a memorandum of understanding that would be a basis for Gazprom starting to build a segment of a pipeline from Iran to India 1200 km long, with part of its pipeline going through the Persian Gulf bottom. In the framework of a respective project “the gas fields situated in Tehran will be explored with Gazprom’s participation, as well as respective infrastructure will be created to supply gas to India,” Alexander Novak said. He says that Gazprom could start building this pipeline in 2019, together with its Partners from India and Pakistan, and one of the possible routes presumes the pipeline going through the central regions of Pakistan. (vedomosti.ru)

In case this project is implemented, the total length of gas pipeline can run into 2100 km, and its capacity will be 22 billion square meters per year followed by further increasing. The resource of this project will be Iranian offshore gas fields in the northern part of the Persian Gulf, including Farzad-A, Farzad-B, Kish and North Pars.

Construction of a gas axis of Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India is a factor that goes beyond the borders of Western and Central Asia. Moscow and Tehran are in fact guarantors and guides for relations of the other two nuclear powers, that had multiple war incidents in the 20th century and still have very strained relations. Pakistan traditionally accuses Moscow of increasing its military cooperation with New Delhi. India is really one of the key partners of Russia in the technical and military sphere. In 2016 this country ranked first in the amount of Russian weapons imports with supplies performed for 1.2 billion dollars, significantly overpassing China, Algiers and Vietnam. In this context, the future pipeline will inevitably become a factor of possible relations improvement between these two countries. (rbc.ru)
Thus, energy cooperation and building a gas “bridge” from Iran through Pakistan to India is capable to fix the disbalance that Islamabad is worried by.

Rosneft also has very serious plans in Iran and in the region to the east of it. During the presidential delegation’s visit to Tehran, company’s representatives signed a “road map” of two-party cooperation with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) that presumes cooperation in order to implement joint projects for a total cost of about 30 billion dollars. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin says that his company will help Iran to increase its own oil exploration by 55 million tons per year, that is 25% of the current level (216,4 million tons in 2016). The agreement signed creates “a platform for strategic cooperation”, and within a year the parties can sign several documents to implement particular projects, Igor Sechin says. (rbc.ru)

Development of cooperation between Russia and Iran in the sphere of oil exploration also plays a very important role for the region. In accordance with the information we have, the Iranian oil can go directly to the oil refinery in Vadinar, the Indian port on the shore of Arabian Sea that Rosneft has recently acquired, another source of oil for this refinery will probably be Venezuelan oil under the contract with PDVSA.

It’s clear that the major energy resource exporters, Russia and Iran, “are interested in increasing cooperation in this sphere, especially considering the fact that both countries are under sanctions regime of the USA and EU,” Mohammad Marandi, Tehran University expert says. He thinks that the two-party cooperation potential between Moscow and Iran in this fear is big in this sphere: “We can do a lot in the sphere of Iranian oil and gas industry.” besides that, before Summit integran on October 31st the country officially started construction of the second power block of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant together with Rosatom, a major Russian state-owned corporation. (rbc.ru)

However, there could be risks in the economic sphere of cooperation with Iran. First, US President Donald Trump said that his country would go out from the international agreement on Iranian nuclear program, even if its other participants refused to amend the document parameters to include Washington’s new requirements. This fact will actually mean a comeback of anti-Iranian sanctions imposed by the USA that will also spread to the countries and companies that continued cooperation with Tehran.

Second, when developing relations with Iran, including the ones in the sphere of economics and commerce, for Russia it is important not to push away the countries of the Persian Gulf showing a growing interest for cooperation, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar (that argues Iran’s right to a number of offshore oil fields) and United Arab Emirates.

Presently Moscow has a unique opportunity to improve relations both with Tehran and with Riyadh, as well as other countries of CCASG considering the controversy existing among them. Such a situation can bring additional dividends to Russia, both political and financial ones.

First published in our partner International Affairs

Peter Iskenderov, senior research assistant at RAS Slavic Studies Institute, candidate of historical sciences

Russia

What Does 2018 Have in Store for the Kremlin?

Dr. Andrey KORTUNOV

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How does the world in 2018 look from the Kremlin? Judging from statements and interviews of Russian leaders, the world is not a very cool place these days. The international environment is more adversarial than cooperative; security challenges dominate over development opportunities; national survival rather than economic prosperity is the name of the game in global politics. The Kremlin’s perspective implies that the international system has entered an arguably long period of instability, increased volatilities, multiple regional crises and, more generally, a steep decline of the global and regional governance.

In my view, it would be wrong to dismiss this vision of the world as completely hypocritical or entirely self-serving; it reflects very real concerns and fears of the Russian leadership. Let me try to summarize the most often referred to manifestations of the 2018 international ill-beings, perceived roots of the problems and Kremlin’s suggestions on how to deal with multifaceted crises in 2018 and beyond.

Manifestations:

  1. The state crisis in the MENA region, in sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of the former Soviet Union. States are losing their sovereignty; they cannot provide law, order or basis social services to populations on their territories, turning into failed or semi-failed states. Failed states became hotbeds of conflicts that last for years and even decades with no solutions in sight.
  2. The growing unpredictability and volatility of global and regional economic and financial markets creates new risks; states, societies and individuals can no longer control their economic destinies or even to influence them in a significant way. We observe economic and social polarization among states and within them; polarization increases populism, radicalism and extremism of various kinds.
  3. The rise of non-state actors challenges state sovereignty and questions the fundamentals of the modern international system. Irresponsible non-state players (from international terrorism and religious fundamentalism to transnational crime and multinational corporations) are accountable to nobody and often have goals and aspirations incompatible with international peace, stability and prosperity. Any attempts to manipulate these players are counterproductive and dangerous.
  4. Uncontrolled and potentially disastrous environmental and climate changes, mounting challenges to biodiversity, environmental stability and resource sufficiency constitute another dimension to the crisis. We observe gross inequalities in resource distribution around the world, the looming resource crunch (food, energy, fresh water, etc.).
  5. The explosion of regional, continental and global migrations increasingly affect the world, which is completely unprepared to confront this challenge. It leads to an unavoidable economic, political, security, social and cultural implications of the coming migration crisis with most countries ill equipped to handle these implications.
  6. Another manifestation of the crisis is the ongoing decline of many international institutions — global and regional, security and economic alike; the growing inability of the UN based system to find effective solutions to mounting problems. In many cases, we witness a shift from legitimate institutions to illegitimate or semi-legitimate ad hoc coalitions.

Roots:

  1. The liberal economic and political paradigms have depleted their potential; they can no longer provide a stable economic growth, a fair distribution of wealth and an acceptable political inclusiveness. Spontaneous market forces and open political competition demonstrate their limitations.
  2. The Western triumphalism after the end of the Cold War led to an institutional overstretch and to ungrounded hopes for the West-centered world. The Western (both American and European) arrogance led to many crises that could otherwise have been avoided or at least mitigated.
  3. The selective use of international law, double standards in international relations, a lot of hypocrisy and double-speak contributed to the erosion of some of the fundamental norms of international public law. These factors produced diverging and even opposite narratives, contributed to more cynicism, opportunism and transnationalism in foreign policies.
  4. The rapid and chaotic process of globalization produced many negative side effects including a rapid decline of traditional values, a global revolution of expectations along with social and cultural polarization, growing vulnerability of an individual to extremism and political radicalism.
  5. The ongoing technological revolution created a whole spectrum of new opportunities for disruptive and subversive non-state actors — including new means of communications, new types of weapons, and new mechanisms of political mobilization. However, states turned out to be unprepared to regulate properly the technological revolution and to put its potentially dangerous repercussions under proper control.
  6. Most of the Western political systems do not allow for any long term planning; politicians in the West are looking for fast results and quick returns on their political investments. This feature of the modern liberal democracy contradicts the apparent need for large scale and long term political projects, including resource-consuming ones.

Solutions:

  1. We have to agree that the critical task of the day is the task to restore and to enhance the shattered global management. Without addressing this task, we are not going to succeed in any other undertakings. The central dividing line in the modern international system is not that between democracy and tyranny, but between order and chaos.
  2. The prime building blocks of the international system are and will continue to be nation states. Therefore, the principle of sovereignty should be fully adhered to and considered to be of paramount importance. Interdependence and integration can be accepted as long as they do not contradict the principle of sovereignty.
  3. The emerging international system should fully reflect the changing balance of powers in the world. The existing West-centered institutions should either undergo a profound transformation or be replaced by more universal, more inclusive and more representative organizations.
  4. We should fully reject the concept of Western (i.e. liberal) universalism of favor of developmental pluralism. The emerging concept of modernity should imply opportunities for preserving national traditions, culture, specific economic, social and cultural models distinctly different from the Western examples. No export of liberal democracy should be supported or even tolerated.
  5. Spontaneous market mechanisms, which set the rules for the global economic and financial systems today, should be complemented by appropriate regulatory frameworks; these are to be agreed upon by participating states. Non-state actors should be forces to moderate their ambitions and behave accordingly.
  6. The overall international system should constitute a pyramid with a number of interacting levels: (1) UN and its specialized agencies; (2) regional security and development institutions; (3) ad-hoc coalitions and alliances with an appropriate mandate; (4) a system of overlapping multilateral and bilateral agreements and other arrangements (regimes), and (5) a think network of contacts, interactions, partnerships, etc. of non-sate, sub-national and other actors.

Numerous critics of Vladimir Putin in the West would argue that this picture of the world in 2018 is one-sided, dogmatic, antiquated and misleading. They would also insist that Russia itself contributed a lot to many problems that the international community has to deal with in 2018 and beyond. Finally, they are likely to maintain that this vision is meant to justify the current Russia’s foreign policy and security posture, to keep the Russian political system intact and to put on a back burner all the badly needed economic and social reforms.

However, a more productive approach might be in trying to single out particular bits and pieces of this vision, which could constitute a basis for a substantive, albeit very limited, dialogue between Russia and the West on the fundamentals of the emerging world order. Even if this dialogue in any format starts this year, it is unlikely bear fruits anytime soon. Nevertheless, to understand Russia’s true concerns, fears, perceptions and expectations remains important, no matter how archaic, biased, opinionated or self-serving these might appear in the eyes of Russia’s critics.

Nikolai Lobachevski teaches us that two parallel lines can intersect, if we move away from the traditional Euclidean to a non-Euclidean geometry. Regardless of how each of us sees the world in 2018, it seems apparent that this world can no longer be explained within traditional IR paradigms. Once we shift to a non-Euclidean approach, parallel visions of the international system may gradually get closer to each other and finally intersect.

First published in our partner RIAC

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US Sanctions against Russia: The Forecast for 2018

Ivan Timofeev

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It must be clear that the letter and spirit of PL 115-44 define Russia in legislative terms as an adversary to the United States, which should be actively opposed and subjected to a comprehensive pressure. In fact, PL 115-44 sets the framework for US policies with regard to the Russian Federation, which to a great extent obviates opportunities for partnership and constructive cooperation. Russia should have no illusions about a reversal of course in the near future. We must also avoid underestimating the efficiency of the tools to pressure us. These trends need to be thoroughly analyzed and monitored.

So, the executive authorities will submit at least seven reports to Congress in 2018, which can be divided into three groups.

The first group includes reports drawn up mostly by the US Department of the Treasury. The U.S. Treasury is the key, if not the only, sanctions policy tool. Congress instructs the U.S. Treasury to work closely with the CIA, the Department of State and other agencies whose data may significantly expand capabilities of financial intelligence. The most expected document in this group is a report on Russian oligarchs and parastatal entities to be prepared by February 2018 and which contains a list of senior Russian political figures as well as oligarchs and entrepreneurs close to the “Russian regime.” Congress wants the submission of an assessment of the relationship between the said individuals and President Vladimir Putin or other members of the Russian ruling elite and an identification of any indices of corruption with respect to those individuals. The report should also include the estimated net worth and known sources of income of those individuals and their family members, including assets, investments, other business interests, and relevant beneficial ownership information and an identification of the non-Russian business affiliation of those individuals.

But being included in the report does not automatically mean that individuals or entities will face sanctions. Nevertheless, the Act unambiguously indicates that the report is a mechanism for their expansion. At least it is required to assess the potential impacts of imposing secondary sanctions with respect to Russian oligarchs, Russian state-owned enterprises, and Russian parastatal entities, including impacts on the entities themselves and on the economy of the Russian Federation, as well as on the economies of the United States and allies of the United States.

In theory, the report may include an unlimited number of Russian individuals and entities. But the algorithm and methodology of its compilation within so brief a timeframe is still a big question. It requires processing a huge amount of information, since, in fact, the case in point is Russia’s entire public sector. This significantly increases the risk of erroneous assessments, which may later affect the United States itself. In theory, the Americans may also choose to present a compact report that will include what they think are the most anti-Western figures. But one nicety involved is that the Act’s current wording does not imply that the report should be constantly updated and therefore the anti-Russia lobby can do what it will to expand the lists as much as possible.

The next report is to appear in February as well. It concerns opportunities for expanding sanctions against individuals or entities blacklisted by the Department of the Treasury under Presidential Executive Order No. 13662, which made it possible to impose sanctions to counteract Russian policies in Ukraine. The fine point is that the executive order imposed sanctions against Russia’s financial and energy sectors, while PL 115-44 added railways to the list, as well as the iron-and-steel and manufacturing industries. For the time being, the report is not to be expanded.

Unlike the previous two, the next report will require a longer preparatory period – until August 2018 – and is to be updated annually until 2021 (but there is nothing to prevent the timeframe from being extended). The report will concern any illicit financial transactions related to the Russian Federation or Russian nationals. It will contain data on specific violations, results of investigative actions, and outreach to the private sector to prevent these kinds of activities. Inclusion in the report involves criminal prosecution.

Importantly, it should disclose the outcome of US agencies’ cooperation with their counterparts in the EU and other countries. In other words, it internationalizes US practices. The report is also a mechanism for finding loopholes in law enforcement with regard to anti-Russia sanctions and has to include trouble-shooting proposals.

The next group is covered by the subtitle, Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia. The Act makes it incumbent on the US government to act as a protector of the sovereignty and security of all Eurasian countries that are or may become “victims” of Russian influence. The Department of State is the key agency responsible for this group. Policies in this area imply the broad use of soft power based on NGOs in the US and Eurasian countries (the Act lists some of these). The appropriations for these purposes in 2018 will add up to $250,000,000, a considerable sum given that it will be largely used for ideological and educational work rather than for infrastructure. At first glance, the money is spread across a wide spectrum of objectives and countries, such as protection of electoral infrastructure, the fight against corruption, legislative improvements, aid to NGOs and the media, and opposition to “propaganda.” However, given the low cost of these measures and their focus on countering Russia, they will become a serious source of pressure. At least this sum is much greater than Russia’s own “soft power” expenses. What’s more, Russian institutions are addressing the entire international agenda, while the West (let alone opposition to it) is not the first, nor the only target of its efforts.

PL 115-04 makes it incumbent on the State Department to report to Congress annually, including its performance, spending efficiency, and results. A separate report will cover cooperation with foreign entities and their contribution. In other words, the Americans expect that their spending should be reinforced by that of their allies in the EU and other countries. The report is due to be submitted on April 1.

The next two reports also need to be submitted annually by the US President.

The first is on the media organizations controlled and funded by the government of the Russian Federation. It is also a black list of sorts involving at least reputation effects and due to stigmatize both Russian media proper and those supported by Russia in some or other form.

The other concerns Russian Federation influence on elections in Europe and Eurasia. This is important as a tool for internationalizing the American approach to supposed Russian “electoral interference.” Unlike the United States, people in Europe and elsewhere are more or less skeptical of the US position. The annual report will make it possible to perpetuate the focus on this subject by aggregating events of any importance and prodding the related Western discourse towards the US stance.

Finally, yet another report is linked to a law on Ukrainian and other countries’ energy security interpreted as reduced reliance on Russian distribution or any ties with Russia. It is speaking about facilitation of Ukrainian energy sector reforms, the sector’s liberalization, enhanced efficiency, etc. But in the same breath it mentions counteraction to Russian energy projects (Nord Stream, etc.) and what it calls “Russian aggression.” It also says directly that the US policy should be aimed at promoting US energy exports to Europe, among other things, to create jobs in the United States. (This means that the Americans are using this political tool in market rivalry.) The Secretary of State is to report on the implementation of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act and on achievements in this area in February, with subsequent updates to be submitted every six months.

The bottom line is that PL 115-04 prescribes a specific bureaucratic procedure and narrative that will largely define US policy with regard to Russia in 2018 and thereafter. There will be at least seven reports submitted next year, each of which will most likely provide a pretext for the further alienation of Russia and the United States from each other. Russia needs a well-considered policy of clever actions that will make it possible to control confrontation, minimize damage, and retain foreign policy initiative.

First published in Valdai Discussion Club

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Russia- Europe: the Need for a Common Vision

Igor Ivanov

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Last days demonstrated yet another division in the transatlantic alliance — political leaders of major European countries explicitly distanced themselves from the new US position on the status of Jerusalem. Earlier they also opposed the new Trump assault against the Iranian nuclear agreement.

At the same time, the European Commission announced its plan to create a European Monetary Fund, to introduce a new position of the EU Minister of Finance in order to enhance the efficiency of the Union’s monetary policy. All the problems and complications notwithstanding, the EU — British negotiation on the modalities of Brexit go ahead narrowing the gap in positions of the two sides.

These and many other developments suggest that Europe has entered a period of a deep reassessment of both its institutional foundations that recently have demonstrated multiple malfunctions and its place and the role in the rapidly changing world of today and tomorrow. This reassessment will be difficult, sometimes painful and even risky, but Brussels cannot avoid or postpone it, if the European Union is to remain among global leaders drawing the counters of the new world order.

Russia, in its turn, has to confront serious challenges of both internal and external nature. Along with apparent recent successes in the international domain, the most manifestations of which being the fight against the terrorist threat in Syria and the advancement of Russia’s interests in the Asian Pacific region, Moscow faces an increasing risk of international isolation. Various sanctions and other restrictions applied to Russia have already caused significant negative consequences for the country. First, they distract substantial political and economic resources from dealing with urgent domestic problems. Second, they limit in many ways Russia’s capabilities to engage constructively in global and regional politics. Third, and this is arguably the most important, sanctions constrain political and economic reforms in Russia, which are badly needed and without which the country will find it increasingly difficult to stay in line with the most advanced nations in the world. To achieve this goal through keeping a robust military potential is clearly insufficient.

Of course, it is up to Brussels and to Moscow to figure out how to manage their respective domestic and foreign policy problems. However, in the modern interdependent world, where national and international factors are more and more intertwined, success or failure in addressing these problems will largely depend on external variables.

In the beginning of this century, Russia and Europe decided to build partnership relations with each other. It was not easy, given the remaining negative legacy of the Cold War, but it turned out to be possible due to the political will on both sides. At that point, everybody agreed that Russia could not become a full-fledged member of either the European Union or NATO and therefore we had to think about new mechanisms of cooperation. These new mechanisms had to help us to overcome institutional limitations and to open the door for a mutually beneficial cooperation.

Over two decades — and this is a very short period by history scales — together, we succeeded to shape a modern, well-structured normative base for our relationship that proved its efficiency in political, economic, and humanitarian domains. It is particularly important to note that we undertook a number of specific initiatives aimed at building a common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic security space.

Let me emphasize that Russia and Europe took all these steps not as concessions to the other side, but rather as a reflection of their respective interests and their understanding of long-term fundamental changes in the world.

Unfortunately, during the second decade of the XXI century a whole number of various reasons, which we have not yet analyzed in depth, led to increased tensions between Russia and Europe.   The previously accumulated positive potential in the relationship quickly evaporates; many established communication channels that have helped us to understand each other better and to find solutions to even the most divisive problems are now disrupted or blocked.   Why has it happened and could it have been avoided deserves a separate discussion. Of course, it is not exclusively or even largely about the Ukrainian crisis. The real troubles between Russia and Europe had started much earlier than 2013.

However, the most important question is not about the past, but about the future. What strategic trajectories can Europe and Russia choose from and how do these trajectories relate to each other?

One can easily imagine drifting further apart from each other guided by bitter disagreements about the past and their diverging perceptions of the future. The European Union will manage without Russia, and Russia will not collapse if it separates itself from EU. However, in this case our common continent will remain divided in the XXI century as it was for the most part of the XX century. The division will have a profound negative impact not only on Moscow and Brussels, but also on the nations in between. Furthermore, the inability or unwillingness of the two sides to make full use of their natural complementarity will inevitably negatively affect the ability of both Europe and Russia to remain vibrant parts of the highly competitive world that emerges right in front of our eyes.

The opposite trajectory implies both sides investing into bridging the gaps between each other, restoring communication links, identifying areas of mutual interest and gradually expanding cooperation in various fields. The progress is not likely to be fast; one can foresee many obstacles, procrastinations and setbacks on the way. The negative inertia of the current crisis will continue to intoxicate our relations for years, f not decades. Still, with due political will, stamina and patience exercised by both sides Russia and Europe can reverse many of the unfortunate developments we witnessed unfolding over last couple of years.

As they say, you should never waist a good crisis. One of the post important tasks for politicians, experts, public leaders and businesspersons on both sides is to rise beyond the passions of the day and to look at the Europe — Russia relations from a broader historic perspective. Only such an approach can enable them to focus our vision, to assess our long-term challenges, opportunities and capabilities –so that we could set our goals right.

First published in EFE Doc Análisis.

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