What is an ideological war

Ideological conflict between Russia and Europe

The relationship between Russia and Europe reflects a “fundamental conflict” between two “incompatible” political views of the post-Cold War world. This is what Ivan Krastev writes for Open Democracy.

Russia's "decade of humiliation" is over, and it has a "terrible thirst for greatness", claims the 5 September article - adding that the re-emergence of Russia as a "great power" is a "new reality" that Europe must address .

Russia’s "comeback" is an "open challenge" to the post-modern European order, believes Krastev.

Rising prices of gas and oil have made the energy-rich country "more powerful, less cooperative and more arrogant", claims the author. Western policymakers have a "limited capacity" to influence Russian policy and are split between a wish to "talk tough" and "teach Russia a lesson".

Oil revenues mean that Russia is no longer dependent on foreign funding, and indeed it is now Europe that is dependent on Russian energy resources - resulting in the return of "realism" to Russia-West relations, believes Krastev.

The West sees Russia as a "geopolitical and economic player" and pays less attention to the nature of its regime. Meanwhile, ideology is now considered "irrelevant" by the Russian elite, he adds.

According to Krastev, the notion of Russia as a "sovereign democracy" - promoted by the Kremlin - may be the key to understanding the "sources of the growing tensions" in EU-Russia relations. Sovereignty to the Russians means "capacity", "economic independence", "military strength", "cultural identity", and a "nationally-minded elite", he adds.

To him, "sovereign democracy" is a "fundamental element" of the Putin era and is Russia’s attempt to develop an "independent and distinct niche" for itself.

For him, sovereign democracy "embodies Russia’s ideological ambition" to provide an "alternative Europe" and is "absolutely incompatible" with the EU vision of "a deliberate increase in mutual dependence and vulnerabilities between European states". Russia pays lip service to multilateralism as a way of "contesting American hegemony", he adds.

The clash between the EU and Russia is "ideological", and that the relationship will continue to be "troubled", believes the author.

He concludes by stating that "the coexistence between European post-modernity and Russia’s sovereign democracy could become more dangerous that the cold-war coexistence between Soviet communism and western democracies".