Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, many Russians expected Europe to awaken to the fact that aiding Ukraine and sanctioning Russia ran counter to its own interests. Political scientist Vadim Trukhachov claims that such hopes are illusory and produces a list of ten reasons why Europe hates Russia. European subservience to the US is only one reason and is near the bottom of Trukhachov's list. Instead of waiting for Europe to come to its senses, Russia must be proactive by scoring victories in Ukraine, withstanding the sanctions pressure and elevating its status in the non-Western world.
Trukhachov's article follows below:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell in February 2021 (Source: Liga.net)
Dialogue between Russia and the European Union [hereafter – the EU] has not taken place for a long time. The only thing that I can recall is the visit by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell to Moscow in February of 2021. However, the trip yielded no results, and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov openly admitted that Russia failed to establish genuine contact with the EU. Clearly, nothing has changed for the better since then, and Borrell has made so many belligerent anti-Russian speeches that I’ve long lost count.
Meanwhile, there are several reasons, why the EU basically doesn’t want to enter a discussion with Russia. The first of them is that back in the ‘90s Europeans got used to perceiving our country as not a subject of international relations, but as an object, or, in the best case scenario, as an unequal partner.
And since this is the case, one doesn’t have to play particularly with diplomacy towards Russia, one just has to push through decisions to its liking. And despite the fact that ‘90s are long gone, the Europeans' perception has hardly changed.
The second reason is the nature of our economic cooperation [with the West]. In the eyes of European politicians, Russia is not even a ‘gas station-country,’ but an oil well with logging. After all, one can find oil, gas, and timber somewhere else (as well as fertilizers). Reality refutes this approach, but hasn't changed the way of thinking quickly.
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The third reason is the dependence of a large part of the Russian elite on Europe. The existence of numerous accounts and real estate on European territory is being perceived by the Europeans as an infallible lever of pressure tool. They thought, “It is enough just to seize one or two accounts and ban entry to couple of officials and business leaders to the EU, and Russia will become more compliant in no time. And if Russia’s assets, worth billions of euros, are frozen, then Russia will have nowhere to go. There is no need for carrots in this state of affairs, sticks are enough.
The fourth reason is the desire to punish and teach Russia a lesson for having strayed from the “true” path of the ‘90s. In the EU’s perception, we are the only country in the world that was at first fully prepared to follow the footsteps of EU policy, and subsequently “reconsidered” and started to put spokes in the wheel. Naturally, such an “upstart” should be immediately put in his place. The mere fact of any concessions made to such a country that "had gone astray" seems an unacceptable weakness of European policy.
The fifth reason has its roots in the clear division of the world into “democracies” and “non-democracies.” According to the European officials, democracies will always come to terms with each other, while a long-term alliance between tyrannies is impossible. Therefore, Russia’s rapprochement with China or Iran, or tactical agreements with Turkey weren’t taken seriously by Europeans. Besides, a “tyranny” by definition cannot be an attractive example for the rest of the world. And even the presence of a successful non-democratic China didn’t help to change their minds.
The sixth reason is that the promotion of European values and ideals to the farthest extent cannot be subject to discussion. If the EU decided to include Ukraine and other former Soviet republics in the orbit of these values, then that's the way it will be. It will still act cautiously [when negotiating] with Muslim countries, but not with Ukraine, Armenia, or Moldova. That is why when back in 2012-2013 Russia suggested to discuss the development of the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” near our borders, no one would talk to us.
The seventh reason: it’s not clear how to perceive Russia. Civilizational peculiarities are acknowledged by the EU for China, India or Saudi Arabia, but not for Russia. Naturally, the EU doesn’t consider us to be fully-fledged Europeans. But Russia also doesn’t resemble ordinary Asians, whose lives are arranged quite differently than in the West. True, even if one would consider Russia not to be part of Europe, it still looks more like Europe than classical Asia. Therefore, it’s possible not to acknowledge its unique development path and to exert pressure on it.
The eighth reason is the EU’s dependence on the US. Europeans are used to talking in an American voice when addressing non-Western world (which does not exclude contradictions between them, but do not change the essence). The Americans, basically, abandoned dialogue with Russia back in 2012. In their eyes the separation of Ukraine from Russia is perhaps the main challenge on a global scale. Obviously, the Europeans won’t quarrel with the US for the sake of maintaining relations with us, especially, as they do not like Russia either.
The ninth reason is that there are countries in Europe that, by definition, relate to Russia badly. For instance, Poland and the Baltic states, no matter what governments they might have, are convinced that they should exclusively apply pressure on Russia. The much more influential Netherlands strives to punish us for the [air] disaster of flight MH-17 over Donbass. Many politicians in the Czech Republic or Sweden built their careers on Russophobia, there are also plenty of them in Germany, France, and even Italy, or Greece. Naturally, they will block any decision aimed at genuine dialogue with Russia.
Finally, the tenth reason. The EU, which is full of internal contradictions, needs an external irritant to unite it. It needs an invalid “other,” compared to which, the EU and its individual member-states would appear exemplary. It has to be a big country; people should have vague understanding of it, but it should not be too frightening to “bitie” it. To assign this role to China or Saudi Arabia would be a bit frightening and Nigeria doesn't fit the requirements, however, Russia is just right… It’s both big, and it will respond moderately...
Naturally, under such circumstances the EU is ready to talk to Russia only in the form of ultimatums. At most, it’s ready to discuss third-priority issues like rescuing drowning men on the high seas. In order to change Europe’s approach to Russia, they must be forced to respect us.
If Europe doesn’t want to talk to us for ten reasons at once, then three steps – true very significant ones – will suffice us: The first is to achieve military victories in Ukraine; the second is to withstand the pressure of Western sanctions; third is to strengthen our stance in the non-Western world. Once we have achieved those things, the EU will enter a substantive dialogue with us (grudgingly, but it will transcend itself, and launch it).
To expect that [the arrival of] “General Frost” in European apartments will force them to treat Russia with due respect can prove endless. It’s necessary for us to act.
Vadim Trukhachov (Source: Eadaily.com)
 Vz.ru, November 19, 2022.