EU-Russia relations: a theoretical interpretation of Russia’s perception of the European Union
Associate Professor at the Department of European Studies, School of International Relations, St Petersburg State University, Russian Federation.
Data publikacji: 15-06-2020
Studia Politologiczne 2020;56
For several decades the European Union was recognised as a major Russian partner, as cooperation with the EU had important political and economic effects on Russia. While these relations were based on common interests in such areas as energy, trade and cross-border cooperation, they also faced serious difficulties because of their different interpretation of values. A traditional explanation of Russia’s attitude to the European Union was based on the theoretical assumptions of the rationalist approach. Neorealists tend to concentrate on the conflicts between the EU and Russia and describe it as a result of their struggle for spheres of influence over their common neighbourhood. In contrast, Neoliberals focused on EU-Russia cooperation and explained it as a problem- solving mechanism based on common interests and the necessity to solve common problems. While the rationalist approach fails to explain transformation of Russia’s perception of the EU, constructivists demonstrate their capacity to explain the evolution of relations between the EU and Russia and the changes of Russia’s policy towards the EU. This article studies the evolution of Russia’s perception of the European Union within the context of EU-Russia relations and their possible theoretical interpretations. In order to examine Russia’s perception of the EU, a constructivist theoretical framework is used with a special focus on imitation and social learning. The imitation process is illustrated by Russia’s implementation of democratic norms and practices; the social learning concepts are used to evaluate political ideas used by Russia to show its vision of the EU and relations with the EU.
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