Are Empires Striking Back? A Political and Cultural Comparison of the European Union and Russia

Open access


The article is a position paper focusing on the current standoff between two regional powers, the European Union and Russia. Following a series of crises, in particular the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, the relationship between Russia and many of its neighbours has significantly deteriorated. This shift has led to various geopolitical opinions, often opposite and seemingly irreconcilable. A holistic and historical approach to this new reality leads some to question the validity of the current world order through the prism of the anachronistic concept of Empires. Subsequent to a review of definitions, the author analyses historical characteristics and political factors of the two territories on focus: the European Union and Russia. There are two outcomes of this study: On the one side, the European Union has become an organisation that shares many characteristics of an Empire, but several key elements exclude it from this political construction. On the other side, the geopolitical actions of Russia have shaped the position of the country into a structure that bears many of the artefacts of an Empire with key essential features. The conclusion of this argument states that the European Union is not an Empire by design, despite many resembling features; whilst Russia lives in an anachronistic paradigm of an Empire, without having the means of being one.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Asmus R. (2010). A little war that shook the world: Georgia Russia and the future of the West. Macmillan.

  • Babones Salvatore. (2015) "Russia's Eastern Exposure." Foreign Affairs.

  • BBC June 25 2016 « UK votes to LEAVE the EU ». The Referendum took place on June 23 2016. The vote « Leave » won with 5190% of the suffrage. Available from Internet:

  • Bosse G. Noutcheva G. Pomorska K. (2013). Values versus Security? Assessing the EU’s Pragmatic Engagement with Belarus in the Eastern Partnership Policy. The European Union and Its Neighbours: Values versus Security in European Foreign Policy 173-194.

  • Carrrère d’Encausse Hélène (1992) Victorieuse Russie Fayard.

  • Conte A. (1992). L'épopée coloniale de la France Plon.

  • Debaere P. (2015). The European Union and the Gx System. In EU Coordination in International Institutions: Policy and Process in Gx Forums (pp. 10-19). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

  • Demchenko O. & Golosov G. V. (2016). Federalism gubernatorial power and the incorporation of subnational authoritarianism in Russia: A theory-testing empirical inquiry. Acta Politica 51(1) 61-79.

  • Dreger C. Kholodilin K. A. Ulbricht D. & Fidrmuc J. (2016). Between the hammer and the anvil: The impact of economic sanctions and oil prices on Russia’s ruble. Journal of Comparative Economics 44(2) 295-308.

  • Dumetz J. Gáboríková E. (2016) The Czech and Slovak Republics: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Cross- Cultural Business Conference Proceedings 2016

  • Dumetz J. in Crane R. (Ed.). (2014). Building Bridges Among the BRICs. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Eurostat Foreign language learning statistics Jan. 2016. Available from Internet.

  • Fabry P. (2015). Histoire du siècle à venir : Où va le monde selon les cycles de civilisation? JC Godefroy Editions

  • Favret R. (2012). Back to the bad old days: President Putin's hold on free speech in the Russian Federation. Rich. J. Global L. & Bus. 12 299.

  • Front National Foreign Affairs program (retrieved June 2016). Available from Internet:

  • Gessen M. (2014). Words will break cement: The passion of Pussy Riot. Penguin.

  • Glenn J. K. (2015). The Economic Opportunities of European Union Enlargement. Economic and Political Contention in Comparative Perspective 114.

  • Gottlieb Gidon. (1994) "Nations Without States." Foreign Affairs. Volume 73 Number 3

  • Gressel G. (2015). Russia’s quiet military revolution and what it means for Europe. Policy Brief ECFR nº143 4.

  • Harari Yuval Noah; Vintage (2014). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.


  • Karatnycky A. & Motyl A. J. (2015). How Putin’s Ukrainian Dream Turned Into a Nightmare’. Foreign Policy vol. 20.

  • Kerr P. (1922). From Empire to Commonwealth. Foreign Affairs 2(2) 83-98.

  • Knott E. (2013). Moldova is at the crossroads between Russia and the EU ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius. LSE European Politics and Policy (EUROPP).

  • Kolesnikov A. (2015). Russian Ideology After Crimea. Carnegie Moscow Center Paper September 22 2015.

  • Kumar K. (2013). Empires and Nations: Convergence or Divergence?.

  • Langer William L. (1962) "Farewell to Empire." Foreign Affairs. Vol. 41 Number 1

  • Lavrov S. (2008). Russia and the World in the 21st Century. Russia in Global Affairs 6(3) 8-18.

  • Makarychev A. (2014). Russia and the EU in a Multipolar World: Discourses Identities Norms (Vol. 127). ibidem-Verlag/ibidem Press.

  • Mäkinen S. (2016). Russia-a leading or a fading power? Students' geopolitical meta-narratives on Russia's role in the post-Soviet space. Nationalities Papers 44(1) 92-113.

  • Marrus M. R. (1985). The unwanted: European refugees in the twentieth century New York New York/Oxford England Oxford University Press 1985. xii

  • Mearsheimer J. J. (2014). Why the Ukraine crisis is the West's fault: The liberal delusions that provoked Putin. Foreign Affairs 93 77.

  • Mestre A. & Monnot C. (2015). Chapitre 2/Les réseaux du Front National. In Les faux-semblants du Front national (pp. 51-76). Presses de Sciences Po (PFNSP).

  • Mironov V. (2015). Russian devaluation in 2014-2015: Falling into the abyss or a window of opportunity?. Russian Journal of Economics 1(3) 217-239.

  • Park J. (2014). The European Union’s Eastern Partnership. Council on Foreign Relations.

  • Pavlenko Aneta (2014) The bilingual mind Cambridge University Press.

  • Peyrouse S. (2015). Kyrgyzstan’s Membership in the Eurasian Economic Union: A Marriage of Convenience?. Russian Analytical Digest 165 10.

  • Redlich J. (1929). The End of the House of Austria. Foreign Affairs 8(1) 598.

  • Reporters Sans Frontières Press freedom ranking in 2016 (Russia is #148). Available from Internet:

  • Reuter O. J. & Remington T. F. (2009). Dominant party regimes and the commitment problem the case of united russia. Comparative Political Studies 42(4) 501-526.

  • Rochlitz M. (2014). Corporate Raiding and the Role of the State in Russia. Post-Soviet Affairs 30(2-3) 89-114.

  • Saccarelli E. & Varadarajan L. (2015). Imperialism past and present. Oxford University Press USA.

  • Schmidt Simon (2014). "Uzbekistan prefers regime security over economic integration" Open Democracy. (

  • Shapovalova N. & Burlyuk O. (2016). The Situation of National Minorities in Crimea Following its Annexation by Russia. European Parliament Study-Committee on Human Rights.

  • Stratfor (2015) How Foreigners Can Help the Russian Military (

  • Tarr D. G. (2015). The Eurasian Economic Union among Russia Belarus Kazakhstan Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic: Can it succeed where its predecessor failed?. Belarus Kazakhstan Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic: Can it succeed where its predecessor failed.

  • Teper Y. (2016). Official Russian identity discourse in light of the annexation of Crimea: national or imperial?. Post-Soviet Affairs 32(4) 378-396.

  • Turchi M. (2014). Le Front national décroche les millions russes. Mediapart. fr 22.

  • World Bank life expectancy statistics at University of Sherbrooke Canada. Last retrieved on 28/06/2016. Available from Internet:

  • Zabyelina Y. G. (2013). ‘Buying Peace’ in Chechnya: Challenges of Post-Conflict Reconstruction in The Public Sector. Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 8(3) 37-49.

  • Zevelev I. (2014). The Russian world boundaries. Russia in Global Affairs 2.

Gesamte Zeit Letztes Jahr Letzte 30 Tage
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 279 99 6
PDF Downloads 141 74 1