EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: As competition grows more intense between the US and China, Moscow must assess which side will do more to help it solve its problems across the former Soviet space. Moscow’s choice will affect Russia’s identification as European, Asian, or Eurasian.
The current crisis between Russia and the West is the product of many fundamental geopolitical differences both within and without the former Soviet space. All trends in bilateral relations suggest that the essential differences between the camps will remain stalled well into the future.
The West’s successful expansion into what was always considered the “Russian backyard” halted Moscow’s projection of power and diminished its reach into the north of Eurasia – between fast-developing China, Japan, and other Asian countries and the technologically modern European landmass. This geopolitical setback on the country’s western border has caused the Moscow political elite to rethink Russia’s position in Eurasia. Politicians and analysts are debating whether the country belongs to Western or Asian civilization or represents a Eurasian symbiosis.