Leaving aside a few brief moments in the Russian policy discourse of the 1990s, post-Soviet Russia has always thought of the country’s role as being with Europe, but not of Europe. Dating from the times of the Helsinki process, which led to the founding of the OSCE, a favoured metaphor in Soviet and Russian thinking was the inclusive notion of a “common European house” from Lisbon to Vladivostok. This space of sovereign states would include Russia as the largest among them – and the United States would be left on the margins or outside.
That chapter is closing now, as the Russian leadership abandons its own idea of inclusiveness. German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the term at the Davos World Economic Forum this year, but Moscow gave no answer to her invitation to return to the wider European discourse.
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