We do not step into the same river

A new European East-Policy has to be a realistic Russia-Policy (part 1)

Wulf-W. Lapins


At the moment, the world is in upheaval. Its political condition is alarming. Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Islamic terrorism, and hybrid warfare are the catchwords. In the course of his enumeration of such prime methods at this year’s security conference in Munich, the German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier could also have referred to the potential nuclear escalation armament race between the USA, Russia, China and India, as well as to geopolitical tribalism overshadowing the territorial conflicts in the South and East China Sea, as equally imminent risks. But that is not enough. The question of war and peace has returned to Europe as well. This assessment, however, does not originate in 2008, when the Georgian-Russian cross-national war took place from 7th to 12th August. Ukraine is in the focus of the present concern in Europe. According to assessments by German diplomacy, the war in the east of this country “is the most dangerous conflict in Europe since decades”. Both permanence and involved actors, but also its potential escalation dynamism, catapult it into even louder echo chambers and sharper rhetorical figures of thought, than the five-day war in Georgia. Like in the platonic cave parable, the shadows are interpreted as realities, and evaluations are deduced from them. Thus, the security-conservative and political elites in Moscow perceive Ukraine as geopolitical competitive conflict on their cognitive map. The western point of view is more sophisticated. As far as the genesis of the conflict is concerned, the domestic context constitutes important conditional factors, such as democracy weakness, low national capacity, the competition of power-political and economic clientele structures, fragmental development of nation and national state, and other infrastructural deficits. This raises the question which possible line the Russian foreign and home policy will take, and which measures are to be taken by the west in order to prevent a new and lasting disunion of Europe. In this essay, the issue of conflict and war events in and around Ukraine is addressed, as well as questions concerning European security resulting from them. Because of the spatial limitations of the essay at hand, this cannot be done in detail. The article does not reflect an empirical-analytical research result. According to its profile and structure, it represents a secondary analytical evaluation laid out as a policy paper, in which empirical and theoretical perceptions enter. For a better understanding, the strategic political lines of development of the long-time good neighbourly co-operations as well as the present mutual threat perceptions are gone over. The most important stages are logically analysed with view on coherences, deficits and possible inconsistencies. As with Heisenberg’s fuzziness relation, where one can detect the particles of nature only deficiently, not as a consequence of insufficient measurements, but because of principle, Putin’s intentions are not clearly identifiable. But this is his very intention (to be continued).