Game of zones. The quest for influence in Europe’s neighbourhood
By Sven Biscop (2014-06-20)
Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and subsequent meddling in Ukraine does not constitute a game-changer. It is just a reminder that at least since the war with Georgia in 2008 Russia has been and still is playing the same game: a « game of zones », aimed at (re)establishing an exclusive sphere of influence. Many of us Europeans had forgotten that, or had pushed it to the back of our minds, preferring to believe that we were not engaged in a zero-sum game in our eastern neighbourhood. While we were dealing with Ukraine, we tended also to forget the crises still going on in our southern neighbourhood, in Libya, Mali, Syria and now Iraq. Spilling over from Syria, extremist militias may establish their own « zone » in the Middle East, which would de-stabilize the entire region. In order to prevent that game-changer from materializing, another game-changer may be necessary: a rapprochement with Iran. Europe must assume responsibility for security in its entire neighbourhood, both east and south. The challenge is great – but so are Europe’s means.
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