Post-Soviet Russian identity and its influence on European-Russian relations
The current crisis between the EU and Russia is influenced by much more serious factors than political tensions over Ukraine or the US political agenda. We suppose that to some extent it has represented a consequence of the crisis of national identity in Russia during the post-Soviet period. And the ongoing crisis clearly reflects that unclear social, political and national identities allow some stakeholders to substitute an objective stimulus for sustainable cooperation with cultural and economic partners that have been historically close, i.e., Russia and European countries, by negative propaganda. The current perception of Europe and Europeans, which is widely shared by the majority of the Russian population, has switched from a thousand years of joint history, development and cultural enrichment to ‘irreconcilable divergences’. This dramatic process develops both in the EU and Russia nowadays but in this paper we focus on the challenge to Russian identity, its roots and modern aspects. The analysis we provide within this paper demonstrates some fundamental preconditions of the political crisis between the EU and Russia that started in 2014, related to identity challenge rather than to international relations per se or value conflict. The concluding part of this paper is dedicated to a search for new approaches to identity policy that might be implemented in Russia and would positively influence a political dialogue between Europe and Russia by making it more predictable.