Russia’s European Prospects

MOSCOW – In 1966, Charles de Gaulle’s vision of a Europe “that stretched from the Atlantic to the Urals” was provocative. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin has advanced an even more ambitious goal: “a common market stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

In the race toward globalization, the stakes are high for both Russia and Europe. If Russia continues on its current path toward becoming solely a raw-materials producer, it will not only become increasingly vulnerable to global energy-price fluctuations, but its scientific, cultural, and educational potential will decay further, eventually stripping the country of its global clout.

If Europe, for its part, fails to respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century, it will face chronic economic stagnation, rising social tension, and political instability. Indeed, as industrial production migrates to East Asia and innovation remains in North America, Europe risks losing its position in the most attractive international markets. As a result, the European project itself could be called into question.

To avoid these outcomes, Russia and Europe must identify where their interests converge, and work to establish a mutually beneficial partnership in those areas. But, in order to foster such a partnership, they must first alter their negative perceptions of each other.