When describing the present condition of the international state system, a broad consensus binds political camps in both the East and West and can be summed up in just a few words: the world is unravelling.
This description, introduced by the former German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, implies that in the decades since the end of bipolarity, a peace-loving world is yet to emerge. Even given the current Ukraine crisis, and Central European and Baltic states stressing the threat of a possible war, the danger of large-scale international wars, at least on the European continent, can be rated improbable (Brzezinski, 2004, p.3ff). Yet a peaceful world eludes us.
Robert Cooper’s thesis (2003, p.16) reasoned that in 1989, with the abrupt end of the bipolar world order, it was not only the Cold War that was no longer a threat, but an entire system of values that had forfeited its relevance, a system that had dominated state relations for three centuries. This view remains undisputed to this day. However, a new world order based on general consensus, signed by the US, Soviet Union, and all other European states in the Paris Charter in November 1990, has never been truly put into effect and as such has never superseded the old one. The breakup of the Soviet Union also meant the end of the system of two antagonistic superpowers, a system that had gradually been taking shape since 1949.
According to Cooper, Russia exhibits a mix of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern characteristics. Since modern/nation-state elements are far more pronounced in the postmodern European Union, the status quo thinking of Russia’s elite circle of power is even more pronounced, meaning relations with the EU are naturally complicated.