EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Russia-West confrontation has, over the course of the past several years, reached its most tense point since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Differences between the two sides will only grow as neither side wants to make concessions on Syria, North Korea, Ukraine, Georgia, etc. However, there is also a strong possibility that the West is making significant headway in its competition with Russia over the former Soviet space.
Contrary to the much-touted opinion that Russia has been successful of late in projecting its influence across the former Soviet Union, Moscow’s influence has in fact significantly receded on the Eurasian continent. US pressure is important here, as are internal economic problems in Russia. But a closer look can easily reveal that it is the EU that has undermined Russian political, economic, and even cultural influence in eastern Europe and the former Soviet space. Moscow has lost influence the Baltic states, Moldova (at least in part), Ukraine, and Georgia, and is losing credibility in Armenia. Europe, meanwhile, has never been so united and unanimous in its internal as well as foreign policy actions.
Why has Europe never been so successful against Russia in the past? A partial answer lies in Europe’s unfortunate geography. The European continent represents a peninsula of Eurasia, with Russia right on Europe’s edge. Peace between them has been a fleeting phenomenon as each has tried to dominate or influence the other.