A clash of hybrid exceptionalisms in EU–Russia relations

Authored by: Cristian Nitoiu

The Routledge Handbook of Critical European Studies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138589919
eBook ISBN: 9780429491306
Adobe ISBN:


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The study of relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia has experienced a significant boost during the last five years. While during the Cold War, relations between the West and the Soviet Union received a high degree of scholarly attention, the end of the Cold War saw a gradual decrease in the amount of studies on relations between Europe (and the EU) and Russia. As a consequence, academic institutions focusing on the study of Russia, as well as specialised journals were downsized in many European countries (House of Lords 2015). However, the Kremlin's recent assertiveness in foreign policy, together with its actions in Ukraine, Syria or during the recent American presidential elections have brought a renewed wave of popularity to the study of relations between the West and Russia. This increasing level of attention has been translated in a proliferation of studies on relations between the EU and Russia, or on the foreign policy of the Kremlin. Most of the literature that was published during the 1990s and early 2000s was rather descriptive, primarily presenting the evolution of EU–Russia relations. However, during the last decade various analytical and insightful studies have sought to explore various aspects of EU–Russia relations, and import several approaches from international relations theory. Russia's actions in Ukraine have also sparked a deeply polarised debate, where there is now a tendency in the literature to take a normative stance either against the Putin regime or criticising the position of the West and the EU (Sakwa 2015). There seems to be no middle ground, as studies that chose to take a more neutral stance are either perceived as appeasers of the Kremlin (or useful idiots) or merely examples of anti-Russian rhetoric.

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