A strategic continuation, a tactical change
The overriding goals of Russia’s European security policy have remained unaltered: strategic control of the post-Soviet area, the existence of a security buffer zone in Central Europe and the transformation of the existing NATO-based security system in Europe in a manner that would maximise Russia’s political and security influence and minimise that of the USA. What has changed and been diversified are the institutional solutions Moscow has employed in an attempt to achieve these goals. From today’s perspective, it can be concluded that none of them have been achieved. Furthermore, the aggressive and revisionist foreign policy that has been sustained on President Vladimir Putin’s initiative has led to a crisis in relations with the West, in some respects even more serious than the one that prevailed during the Cold War era. At present, Russia needs to choose: whether it should continue the present confrontational approach (or even toughen it) or seek détente with the West. However, the present policy pursued by Russia seems incapable of being altered without major changes in its internal politics.