عنوان مقاله [English]
The relationship between Russia and the European Union as two rational actors has had many ups and downs. In order to explain these developments scientifically, it seems necessary to use an appropriate analytical model. The theory of games, focusing on the logic of co-operation, interactions and differences among actors, can be a precise framework for understanding Russia-EU relations. Thus, the present research attempts to use games theory to answer the question of how Russia’s and European Union’s upward and downward relations can be investigated within the considered time horizon (2000-2018) which includes the causes and roots of the convergence and divergence in their stances, the types of decisions and decision-making under crisis conditions. To answer this question, the qualitative and documentary research methods have been used. Research findings show that during 2000 and 2004 actors’ behaviors, which was affected by the pessimism in the wake of the security situation of the Kosovo crisis, are consistent with the conditions governing the prisoner’s puzzle, which considering the level of commercial and economic interdependence, geographical proximity and terrorism related issues turns into a trigger strategy in the game theory. During 2004 to 2008, with the advent of the Orange Revolution, the deployment of the Missile Defense Shield and the Russo-Georgian war, the European Neighborhood Policy is gradually being set against Russia’s neighborhood policy, forming a zero-sum game. In the years 2008 and 2012, Medvedev’s proposal for a new security order, along with issues such as the financial crisis and the need for energy security, became a major driver for a turnaround in countering policies, thus forming the stag hunt game; thereafter, however, issues such as human rights, the intensification of competition in the energy sector, and the formation of the Syrian and Ukrainian crises put two actors on an inevitable head-on collision course, and turn it to the game of the chicken, which is still ongoing.
Given the eighteen-year evolution of Russian-EU relations and the logic of the various games of this era, the following general conclusions can be drawn:
1. General areas of divergence and convergence
Russian-European Union relations have always been influenced by climate change, the rise of China and other economic powers, non-proliferation and, of course, energy as a destabilizing and threatening factor, both of which are relatively intense. And they all further have been influenced by the divergence and convergence of Russia and the European Union. Despite these partnerships, differentiating and challenging factors such as the expansion of NATO and the European Union, competition for energy resources in the Caspian Sea, the European Union’s willingness to cooperate with Eastern European countries, the European Union’s efforts to influence and expand its relations with countries Central Asia and the Caucasus have always been influential in their ties.
Hence the relations between the two actors to eighteen years on the one hand were influenced by geopolitical, political, security, human rights and conflicting interests, which led on its turn to discourse, normative and identity disconnect, atmosphere of suspicion, ambiguity, tension and competition in the EU-Russia relationship; on the other hand, factors such as geographical proximity, new international challenges and threats, and interdependence— Russia’s need for Western capital and technology to develop and EU's energy needs and imperative of cooperation with Russia in stabilizing and securing Eurasia— have pushed Brussels and Moscow inevitably to continue their cooperation and crisis management at least in the medium term.
2. The Big Game – Russia’s move to a position of influential power and confrontation with the European Union
Investigating the developments from 1999 to 2018 shows Russia’s upward trend in achieving internal stability and, consequently, providing a broad and important role in the external arena. In other words, a weak and passive Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union will find a new place in the power equations over time. So the whole process is on the one hand Russia’s coming to power. But along this route there are ups and downs. Russia is pursuing models of cooperation and confrontation to achieve its goals in Europe and in the world. First, it starts with confidence in Europe, and through various phases of trials and errors, which come with many benefits and costs, it tries to follow a path that is not a good sign for Europeans. On the other hand, this upward trend and Russia’s actions in this, in the eyes of the Europeans, become something more than co-operation for the common good; in fact, Russia has raised Europeans’ perception of threat and therefore this game has no meaning for Europe; that a new Russia is coming to power. Naturally, there is a great deal of backlash among these players, and Europe cannot and will not want the former Soviet Union to show its power once again in the Russian Federation. So the reason for Europe’s on and off conflicting games is clear to us. Therefore, wherever co-operative game increases Russia’s power and ability to confront Europe, Europe abandons cooperation and resort to confrontation.
3. EU-Russian relations - successive games and ups and downs of Russian-EU relations
The end point of this debate is the point of confrontation between Europe and Russia. The conflict that has continued to this day and the parties have maintained their leverage over each other. On the one hand, Russia’s pressure on the countries concerned, the energy crisis and, of course, the Syrian crisis, and the pressure on Europe that comes from not resolving this crisis, and on the other, the extension of Russian sanctions, NATO expansion to the East, and European human rights issues still cast a shadow over their relationships. Given the developments and the issues raised, it seems that Russia and Europe continue to walk on a tightrope. These confrontations, which are a function of local, regional and international factors, give rise to sinusoidal relationships of cooperation and non-cooperation and action as per different games with different strategies.