chapter  2
The crisis of spheres of influence in the EU–Russia relationship
Pages 16

This chapter tells the story of how things have gone wrong in the European Union (EU) and Russia’s Common Spaces arrangement. Created back in 2005, the Common Spaces agreement constitutes the EU-Russia relationship as an association of equals with plans for four broad areas of regional cooperation. The most problematic of these has always been cooperation in the policy field of external security. The story centres on the failed attempt, led by Russia, to overcome its

exclusion from the European security order. Partnering with the EU in the governing of Common Spaces appears to give Russia what it has been denied since the end of the Cold War; namely, an equal voice and authority with Europe in regional security affairs. More than ten years later, however, it is obvious the regional order of Common Spaces has not been built to last. Despite its inclusive and cooperative intentions, the Common Spaces agreement is the origin of disputes between Russia and the EU over who is to blame for an exclusive, geopolitical struggle over ‘spheres of influence’. This geopolitical disorder is framed in the West in terms of a return of a

nineteenth-century form of power politics. The argument advanced here is this belies a lack of historical awareness. The crisis on the wing of contemporary Europe is wholly a creation of the twenty-first century. It revolves around an unresolved question of how to achieve a lasting agreement on the rules and norms for regulating the international political associations between the European security community and its various neighbours. The failure to find a satisfactory answer to this question in the association between the EU and Russia explains why their international relationship is prone to one crisis of spheres of influence after another.