EU-Russian relationsÐa member-state perspective: Germany and RussiaÐa special partnership in the New Europe?
The abrupt implosion of the Soviet-type system in Eastern Europe in autumn 1989 set in motion processes which were eventually to result in the unification of the East and West German states in October 1990 and the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. These two events more than anything have defined the new political environment of the New Europe and have required both Germany and Russia to set about a fundamental reconsideration of their international identities. Russia, on the one hand, is challenged with the task of coming to terms with the loss of empire and the global superpower status it enjoyed during the Cold War. Germany, on the other hand, is forced to contend with the implications that come with the restoration of full sovereignty and the dilemma of reconciling the heightened expectations of leadership expressed by the US with fears of dominance among its European neighbours. Both, furthermore, are required to develop their new identities within the context of an evolving new European order. The geopolitical locations of Russia and Germany bordering the region of Central and Eastern Europe, the traditional buffer zone between East and Western Europe, suggest that these two European powers will play a key role in the evolution of a new pan-European political order whether they possess hegemonic aspirations or not.