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EU-Russia Collision Not Inevitable in Post-Soviet Space

Friday, Feb. 7, 2014

Late last year, the European Union and the Russian Federation ushered in a new period of intense geopolitical rivalry, driven largely by pressure from the escalating disorder in Ukraine and the possible collapse of that country’s government. Despite assurances by top leaders of continued dialogue, the rhetoric from politicians, the press and expert communities on both sides is now disturbingly reminiscent of rivalry from Europe’s bloody past, including the run-up to World War I, exactly 100 years ago.

The root causes of Russia-West confrontation over the post-Soviet space have been consistent for the past two decades. First, there is not yet a clear consensus about who decides the future of the no longer “newly independent” states stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian Basin. It may be rhetorically comfortable to suggest that the people themselves are the only legitimate arbiters of their fate, yet the current situation in Ukraine amply illustrates how quickly a domestic political fight turns geopolitical. ...

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