Russian-European Security Interaction and the Idea of Great Powerhood Between 1991-1999

Now that we have figured out the main elements of Russian identity and the tensions between them, I will turn to an analysis of Russian- European relations in the Balkans and the Black Sea region. I will show how various developments activated certain elements of this identity, which discursive constructions of the Russian Self and the European Other were employed in this process, and which of these were challenged or enhanced in this process. Most importantly, I want to uncover what kind of thinkable and possible options for interaction with various European actors these diverse constructions reflect. To map the discursive landscape and explore the process of competing discourses, the present chapter focuses on the newspaper Izvestia, which during the 1990s remained a platform for the exchange of different opinions. Although many new newspapers appeared in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Izvestia remained of special interest because this newspaper remained a most popular site open for discursive contest. To trace the evolution of discourses arising in response to new developments in the Balkans and in Europe, I will also look at public statements made by those promoting and representing various discourses through other channels, including memoirs, articles in academic publications, and so on. Secondary sources will be analysed to trace the link between the new Russian Self and its main Others as well as the policy choices made or presented as being appropriate within these discourses.

© The Author(s) 2017

V. Samokhvalov, Russian-European Relations in the Balkans and Black Sea Region, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-52078-0_5

In this chapter, I will cover a significant period of the history of Russian-European relations from 1992 to 1999. The goal here, however, is not to provide an exhaustive account of the Russian-European interaction during this time span, but rather to trace the process of identity construction, political development, and relevant policy fluctuations. Therefore, I will first briefly discuss the discourses that dominated the Russian cognitive landscape throughout the early 1990s. I will show how these discourses made sense ofwhat had happened to the Soviet Union and within its periphery. I am less interested, however, in the broader cognitive landscape, which has been studied by Hopf in great detail. What I am going to do instead is to analyse the discourse of the ruling class and the presence in this discourse of various representations of Europe and the concept of greatness. With this in mind, the second section will deal with what Hopf identified as the discourse of New Western Russia articulated by the representatives of the liberal political elite. The section focuses on how this discourse was different, which elements of Russia’s great power identity were important, and which policy choices they identified as thinkable and imaginable. Having identified important aspects of this discourse and the interplay with practical elements of Russia’s great power identity, I will move on to examine policy choices made in the process of the Russian- European interaction. Drawing on this discourse analysis, the third and fourth sections will explain Russia’s options and policy choices in its interactions with the West during the inter-ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and the Black Sea region in the early 1990s. It will analyse Russia’s perception of the major international actors involved, who might be linked to the idea of Europe. Section 5.5 will trace how these experiences of interaction with the West in the early-mid 1990s change Russia’s perception of other actors and how this change affected Russia’s perception of the European Union. Section 5.6 will conclude by demonstrating the close and ever intensifying links among Russia’s Balkans experience, its self-perception, and security concerns in the Black Sea region.

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