Russia and its neighbours: East or West?
- Publisher: Royal Irish Academy
As ‘Europe’ becomes more diverse, the countries that were formerly part of the USSR face new choices. One of the most fundamental is whether they identify with the economic and military institutions of the ‘West’, such as NATO and the European Union, or with the Commonwealth of Independent States and other forms of association with the Slavic ‘East’. We examine these choices in each of three societies—Belarus, Russia and Ukraine—on the basis of national surveys conducted between 2000 and 2008. Across the three, ‘Eastern’ orientations have more popular support than ‘Western’ ones, but Ukrainian opinion is more sharply polarised than opinion in the other two countries. There is more support for a ‘Slavic choice’ in Russia than in either of the other two countries, and particularly large numbers there who regret the demise of the USSR; but opinion on such matters is moderate rather than fundamentalist and does not necessarily exclude a closer relationship with the European Union and NATO.