Greater Europe

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Greater Europe refers to the idea of an extended or developed Europe. This generally implies a Europe which transcends traditional boundaries, including trans-Eurasian countries,[1] or those in close proximity with a strong European heritage.[2]

It may specifically deal with future scenarios of enlargement or development of the European Union, to the point of a Federal Europe or the Eurosphere,[3][4][5] or a "re-unified" Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain.[6]

Russian and Western visions of European Security

After the end of WWII in 1945, a two opposing camp security structure emerged in Europe. On the western side, an alliance of states lead by the United States which established NATO in 1949 and kept enlarging later, and on the eastern side the USSR and its allies which established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. In this two sided security structure which reigned over the Cold War, European countries were not a global political entity, they did not have the EU, they were divided between the two sides and they only had a Coal Union. The European countries were either aligned with the US or the USSR. However after the end of the Cold War in 1991, the security order on the continent changed. There were no longer tanks staring at each other along a line that divided Europe, and the Warsaw Pact no longer existed. So this new situation demanded a comprehensive revision of the security arrangements.

    Despite the end of the Cold War in 1991, NATO kept existing whereas the Warsaw Pact did not. And thus contradictory to the promises made to Russia, NATO kept enlarging, to Russia’s discomfort.  The Russian vision of European Security in its modern form is urging to build this European security together with European countries, and involving Russia into it as well. But developments since 1991 suggest that the US, who is the leading and dominating party in NATO, may still have a Cold War like vision of European security. That is to say, security against Russia, and in this sense the US promoted the expansion of NATO which now is very close to Russia’s borders and even includes the Baltic countries which were part of the USSR as well as former Warsaw Pact countries like Poland, Hungary, etc. Russia sees this as a build up against itself, with the vision that what would even the purpose of NATO to exist be, after the Cold War was over? It possible that NATO started a search for meaning of existence after 1991 and the War on Terror or Middle Eastern interventions were not enough to satisfy this search.
    One important issue in European Security matters is definitely the Missile Defence Shield (MDS) the deployment of which in EU countries (Romania, Poland, Czech Republic) is being promoted by the United States. The claim is that this is a protection against states like Iran and North Korea. However this does not change the fact that these defensive and radar systems cover Russia’s territory all the way to the Urals and threaten to naturalize a big part of the land silo based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are the foundations of Russia’s defensive potential and deterrence. And the fact that despite its requests, Russia was denied to participate in this defensive structure, and no legally binding commitments were made by Western countries that these systems were not a threat against Russia suggest that it is actually being built against Russia. This is a critical matter, and it suggests that the Western (especially US) vision of European security has changed little since 1991, it is still being built against Russia, and constant portrayal of Russia as a powerful aggressor by main stream media feeds this aggressive Russia image in the eyes of their populations. Recent events in the Scandinavian countries indicate that NATO seeks a new expansion wave northwards, by creating imaginary threats and turning the public hawkish, more security concerned. Sweden and Finland have traditionally neutral stances, and it would be in Russian interests that they remain so. 
    The Russian vision of European Security after 1991 envisages building this security together hand in hand with European countries. As two neighbours, adjoining a regional arc of volatility fraught with transnational threats and challenges, Russia and the EU stand to gain from forging closer ties in the area of security.  As Russia is not hostile towards these countries, this should have been a pretty simple task of establishing joint security and cooperation against terrorism. However, this does not seem to be desirable by the US, which despite not being a EU country, is still the leader of the alliance and the dominant decision making party when it comes to security matters. Russia is interested in a form of Eurasian security, that involves Western Europe and Russia’s Far East, and also that this security will not be aimed at any other country. But NATO needs a target, the image of an enemy in order to justify its existence and huge defence budget. The US keeps urging other NATO members to devote a certain percentage of their GDP constantly to defence spending, besides its own huge defence budget. 
    There were several redlines in the Russian understanding of security. These were countries like Ukraine and Georgia, the admission of which into NATO is very undesirable for Russia. Thus what would that be necessary for, to defend against who, if not Russia? And after the crisis in Ukraine, NATO increased its activities in Ukraine in the form of joint exercises and more ships being deployed to the Black Sea. It is not technically possible that Ukraine could join NATO, but it seems at this point just distancing Ukraine against Russia seems like a good goal for NATO. All indications show that an independent, strong and militarily capable Russia is seen as a challenge for Western Security vision, and all the things that are being done from deploying more forces to the Baltics to training Kiev controlled forces and especially deploying the MDS prove that the aim is to encircle Russia and reduce its power. This highly contradicts the Russian vision of security. Strategically, confrontation is not in the interests of even EU countries anymore, as they seek not conflict but peaceful economic cooperation aimed at improving business and welfare. To change the still present Cold War mentality in the Western and especially US understanding of European security, the Europeans themselves may need to be truly independent of Washington, and be able act in defence of their own interests instead of obeying the US security agenda.  And since China is rising on the other side of the planet and will sooner or later enter into more active confrontation with the US, and since the US does not seem to tolerate another Super Power and seeks to maintain a uni-polar order, it can be calculated that the European countries will not be interested in following the US into another Cold War-like struggle and thus will seek to increase their autonomy and independence. This cooperation could dramatically increase between the EU and Russia, without the interference of an outside Super Power affecting the decision making processes.
    To conclude about the present day versions of these security visions, it can be said that the EU vision of security is dominated by the US view of security, as the US is the leader and decision maker of the military alliance, increased deployment of NATO troops closer to Russia’s borders and intensified joint trainings that include Ukraine are not welcome by Russian security understanding, and Russia is interested in building security with Western partners, not against them, but feels that Western security is being built without it and against it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russia and the West: the 21st century security environment. M.E. Sharpe. 1999. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7656-0432-3. 
  2. ^ Coca-Cola Forms 2 New Overseas Units; The New York Times; 21 January 2000; retrieved 7 August 2008
  3. ^ Russian media reports on Yeltsin's pledge to cut troops; BBC News; 3 December 1997; retrieved 7 August 2008
  4. ^ EU and Russia Agree to Strengthen Ties; DW-world; 10 May 2005; retrieved 7 August 2008
  5. ^ Commission creates 'Wider Europe' task force; EurActiv; 10 July 2003; retrieved 7 August 2008
  6. ^ Towards greater Europe?: a Continent without an iron curtain. Blackwell Publishers. 1992. ISBN 978-0-631-18551-2.