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Article

The EU, Russia and the Manichean Trap

Cambridge Review of International Affairs. 2017. Vol. 30. No. 2-3. P. 177-194.

Conceptualizing the EU as a postmodern cooperative power that “transcends realism” provides ideological scaffolding for an exclusive conception of “Europe” and veils a zero-sum geopolitical project as “European integration”. Neoclassical realism considers assigning morally opposite political identities to the EU and Russia to be “rational” to the extent it strengthens internal cohesion and mobilizes resources to enhance security in accordance with the balance of power logic. Yet, the artificial binary construction can also produce a Manichean Trap when compromises required to enhance security are depicted as a betrayal of indispensable virtues and “Europe”. The ability to harmonize competing security interests diminishes as the conceptual space for comparing the EU and Russia is de-constructed. Competition is framed in uncompromising terms as “European integration” versus Russian “spheres of influence” and democracy versus authoritarianism.