New Eastern Europe: The Atlanticist project


All projects aiming to integrate the CIS countries into Atlanticist structures can be generalized under the category of the meta-project for “New Eastern Europe.” The most complete conceptualization of this “New Eastern Europe” is presented the collection released by the Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington. The full title of this collection, The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, itself precisely specifies the zone for expanding discourse on “Eastern Europe,” which is broadened to include the western flank of CIS, i.e., the countries that Russia traditionally considers to be its own zone of influence as this area seriously affects its national interests. These countries, along with the other CIS members, are considered the “near abroad” and according to fundamental foreign policy instruments indicated in the Russian Foreign Policy Concept (2008 and 2013) and the National Security Strategy to 2020 (2009) they are of the highest priority to the Russian Federation.

The head editors of The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, D. Hamilton and G. Mangott, note that these “New Eastern European” countries lack a stable national identity (an issue which has no consensus in any of these states) and no tradition of their own statehood which could negatively affect the process of state-building in this region.[i] G. Mangott most importantly states that “New Eastern Europe does not exist - it is what external actors make of it.”[ii] In his opinion, overcoming the current instability of these states requires that “New Eastern Europe” follow the same path that the “original” Eastern European states followed some time ago, i.e., the adoption of Western liberal values as their own, fully institutionalizing typical European legal and political systems, and adapting their economies to free market principles. In this perspective, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Moldovans should become exemplary Europeans in a socio-cultural, legal, political, and economic sense. The fact that each of these states (except Belarus) have declaratively moved in this direction since their declarations of independence in 1991 without achieving any significant success is ignored by Western experts. Mangott urges the CIS countries to proceed with the copying of Western norms and institutions even without hoping to join the European Union by virtue of the simple “fact” that these institutions are more effective[iii]. Needless to say, this position is extremely ideological from a geopolitical point of view since geopolitics considers the export of values to be one of the methods of establishing geopolitical control.[iv] Indeed, this position aims to establish Atlanticist control over these countries in the same way and under the same slogans that such was carried out in Eastern Europe. From a sociological point of view, as A. Dugin notes, “Atlanticism means Western values, modernization, the Westernization of culture, liberalism, democracy (or liberal dictatorship if there is the risk of this leading to a non-Western model of society), the free market, individualism, tolerance, the individual over the citizen, cosmopolitanism, sex-changes, and freedom of movement, press, assembly, and demonstrations. ”[v]

From the authors of the report’s point of view, NATO’s expansion into “New Eastern Europe”  benefits these countries’ security and consolidates their civilizational choice. The only exception is that of including Ukraine in NATO since, as the authors note, the majority of the population is against such a possibility despite the efforts of the ruling elite. Including Ukraine in NATO is seen as problematic for the West given the negative attitude of Russia towards such a possibility and the necessity of solving the problem of the Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol[vi]. At the same time, they insist that “NATO’s door should be kept open to Ukraine, and Kyiv should be encouraged to undertake the necessary reforms to qualify for membership.” The authors simultaneously maintain that “New Eastern Europe” should not “become the new eastern frontiers of Euroatlantic institutions or the western border of a renewed Russian hegemonic area.” Instead of a unique choice between an eastern or western identity, postmodernity allows the region to be understood as having “multiple identities, endorsed by broad majorities of these societies, [which] are more the norm in this region than an exclusive eastern or western orientation.”[vii]

On the one hand, such a position might appear acceptable for both Russia and Eastern European countries. However, we should not forget that this position is based on the presupposed  infallibility and absolute truth of Western norms and the western socio-cultural system which Russia is challenged to adopt. Such a move is fraught with the loss of geopolitical sovereignty as the experience of Russia foreign policy in the 1990’s, especially during A. Kozyrev’s administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirms this appraisal. The same thing can be said about the foreign policy experiences of the majority of Eastern European countries after 1989. The authors’ position is de facto Atlanticist, albeit softened by reservations on “taking into account Russian interests.” The texts’ pro-NATO rhetoric is additional evidence of this given that the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance is one of the most important Atlanticist organizations. Moreover, the authors of The New Eastern Europe are unwilling to constructively accept any attempts by Russia to represent itself as a leading power in the post-Soviet space.

The head of the Institute for Transitional Democracies, Bruce Jackson, holds a stricter position, considering the territory of the former Soviet Union as an area of ​​struggle between the forces of Russia, on the one hand, and the “Western democracies” on the other. In Jackson's appraisal, this is a fight for the political orientation of the countries in Europe’s East, economic influence in these regions, and for the extension of their respective alliance systems and multilateral institutions[viii]. According to him, it is a struggle for democracy against “eternal Russian authoritarianism.” Jackson even appeals to a certain “geopolitical revisionism,” which means repressing Russia and fundamentally reducing its military presence in the region[ix]. It is thus no surprise that Jackson and his Institute of Transitional Democracies have promoted the idea of creating a bloc of hostile states confronting Russia relying primarily on Eastern Europe and led by Poland and the Caucasus. In addition, according to Western analysts, Turkey should join this bloc too[x].

Bearing the above in mind, it is also necessary to attentively review the EU Eastern Partnership program as a project which similarly aims to expand Eastern European discourse. The most consistent supporter of “Eastern Partnership” in regards to the CIS countries (but not Russia) is Poland. The leading RISS specialist E. Khotkova has pointed to a peculiar division of responsibilities noticeable between the countries of Eastern Europe: “Poland is aimed, first of all, at Ukraine, the Czech Republic is aimed at the Western Balkans, and Lithuania at Belarus.[xi]” It must be recognized that the Eastern Partnership program does not include full accession to the EU for participating countries. However, it does mean the institutionalization of EU law (aqui communitaire) including numerous regulations concerning such things as the types of products to be produced, which directly affects the participating countries’ economic interests as well as the reduction of their political and social systems’ sovereignty in accordance with “good governance.” In exchange for such compliance, the Eastern Partnership member countries are offered inclusion in the “four freedom zones” (goods, services, people, and capital[xii]). On this note, the former European Commission President, Romano Prodi, quite aptly stressed the character of this partnership as concerning “everything but institutions.”[xiii] Thus, the Eastern Partnership’s member states are de facto included in the EU’s economic, legal, political, and social system, but have far less rights than EU member states. They are required to institutionalize EU norms, but cannot legally control their implementation as the EU always acts as a “watchdog” and “supervisory authority” criticizing these countries’ actions. These and many other factors render the “Eastern Partnership” perceivable as an imperialist project which in effect makes western CIS countries directly dependent on the new empire not only in regional terms but also within the scope of its global ambitions[xiv].

The expansion of the EU correlates with its use of anti-Russian rhetoric in foreign policy discourse. The domestic and foreign policies of the Russian Federation are “understood in the same discourse designed to create an image of Russia as ‘anti-Europe’ as the main part of the presentation structuring the EU’s expanding space.”[xv]

In strictly assessing the geopolitical implementation of this project and its practical difficulties, we should consider the position of Atlanticism in the contemporary EU leadership. Even before the signing of the Transatlantic Declaration between the European Community and the United States in 1990[xvi], the position of the supporters of Euro-Atlanticism in Europe, i.e., the geopolitical philosophy built on the idea of a North-American-European rapprochement based on the common values of liberal democracy and the recognition of the historical and cultural unity of the two sides of the North Atlantic, was quite strong, and remains so to this day.[xvii] The Atlanticist orientation of the modern European bureaucracy can be recognized in analyzing the speech of the then European Commission President J. Barroso at the Brussels Forum on March 26, 2011 entitled “A New Atlanticism for the 21st Century.”[xviii] As the Russian scholar L. Savin noted, Mr. Barroso’s speech evidenced his opposition to the concept of a multipolar world, as he criticized the view that Europe and the US’ transatlantic relationship should not be regarded as exceptional by Europe on the grounds that new centers of power have appeared in the world. According to the concept of multipolarity, this relationship should indeed  be considered as nothing more than a relationship between two poles in a multipolar system. However, the European Commission head refused such an allowance, instead referring to the unity of the EU and the US’ values, on the grounds of which he proposes to develop EU foreign policy. For the US, Europe and Barroso are engines of globalization, and they should be cooperated with. The head of the European Commission stressed the need for a more dynamic transatlantic cooperation and proposed a 6-point outline of EU-US joint action which stresses first of all joint efforts to change the architecture of international cooperation and the creation of a common transatlantic security space[xix].

In comparison, we should note that the EU Eastern Partnership has been more successful than the United States’ own attempts to involve New Eastern Europe in Atlanticist structures directly. The unresolved conflict in Transnistria, the active opposition to joining NATO found in Ukraine, and the existence of an authoritarian regime with an independent foreign policy in Belarus have made the prospects of these countries joining NATO in the near future quite unlikely. E. Khotkova notes the failure of US policy to include the post-Soviet countries into the Visegrad Group. The first such related failure can be considered the slowing down of the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) project. In this light, the establishment of the Commonwealth of Democratic Choice should be considered an attempt to integrate several CIS and Eastern European countries into one organization. Established immediately after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine on the initiative of Ukrainian and Georgian presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikhail Saakashvili, this organization held its first summit in Kiev in 2005. Its original purpose was inciting the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan after the decision was made, based on events in Ukraine and Georgia, to support the liberal opposition in other CIS countries[xx]. Although Kyrgyzstan soon fell off the list of potential candidates for membership, the Atlanticist focus on spreading democratic revolutions via “color revolutions” in CIS countries remained the organization’s raison d’etat. The founding summit of the Commonwealth was in turn attended by senior officials from Ukraine, Georgia, Estonia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Latvia, Moldova, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland. The agenda of the organizations’ participants stated that “the Commonwealth aims to create a powerful tool for the liberation of the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian region from the confrontation, frozen conflicts and human rights violations, which will start a new era of democracy, security, stability and peace in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Caspian sea.” Particular attention was paid to the problems of “integration of the Baltic-Black-Caspian Sea region and the Balkans into Euro-Atlantic structures.[xxi] Since its founding, there have been three Commonwealth conferences, the last held in Vilnius in 2006. The organization is currently inactive.

After the ceasing of GUAM activity as well as that of the Commonwealth of Democratic Choice, each state of Eastern Europe began to play its own role in the transmission belt of US policy in the region on an individual level. Thus, in Czech Republic in 2004 the Department of Human Rights and Transition Promotion Policy was created within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In coordination with USAID (US Agency for International Development), the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working on promoting democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, and Belarus[xxii]. In Serbia, the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) is active, whose founders include the former leaders of the Serbian youth organization Otpor that initiated the first color revolution that led to the overthrow of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. CANVAS prepared activists from various youth movements to play roles in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia[xxiii], the events of February 2011 in Egypt, and is now working on the preparation of “revolutionaries” for Belarus, Russia, Myanmar, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe while actively interacting with activists from more than 50 countries around the world. Thus, CANVAS, is becoming a global center for the export of color revolutions[xxiv].

As for Hungary, the International Centre for Democratic Transition was founded in the capital, Budapest, with the assistance of the former US Ambassador to the Country, M. Palmer. The organizations activities extend not only across Europe but also to Asia, Latin America, and Africa[xxv]. Budapest is also home to the Central European University of the famous American financier and globalist George Soros which is involved in preparing an intellectual elite for Eastern Europe and the CIS countries, including Russia[xxvi].

At the same time, the scale of Atlanticist projects for Eastern Europe’s geopolitical reorganization, including the expansion of the political and geographical image of “Eastern Europe” and accompanying government practices to CIS countries, heavily involves the two largest countries in the region with the longest borders with CIS states and the greatest geopolitical ambitions backed by specific historical experiences: Poland and Romania.

These Atlanticist projects strive for the creation of a caricatured image of Eastern Europe in many ways declaratively based on “memory politics” and “historical politics” which, once again, refers us back to the problem of political and geographical images, related discourses, their content, and discursive practices. On the other hand, it demands that we use the tools of traditional geopolitical analysis. Thus, these projects, as well as their implementation, need to be examined in yet another separate piece.


[i] Hamilton D., Mangott G. The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova. Baltimore, Maryland: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2007. P. 1.

[ii] Mangott G.  Deconstructing a Region // Hamilton D., Mangott G. The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova. Baltimore, Maryland: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2007. P. 261.

[iii] Ibid. P. 262-265

[iv] Дугин А.Г. Неоатлантизм как концепт / Дугин А.Г. (ред.) Левиафан. Материалы семинара «Геополитика/ Геостратегия». М., 2011. С. 67; См. также: Dima N. Culture, Religion, and Geopolitics. N.Y., 2010. P. 61.

[v] Дугин А.Г. Неоатлантизм как концепт / Дугин А.Г. (ред.) Левиафан. Материалы семинара «Геополитика/ Геостратегия». М., 2011. С. 67.

[vi] Larrabee F.S. Ukraine and NATO / Hamilton D., Mangott G. The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova. Baltimore, Maryland: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2007. P. 239-260.

[vii] Mangott G.  Deconstructing a Region / Hamilton D., Mangott G. The New Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova. Baltimore, Maryland: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2007. P. 276.

[viii] Jackson B. The Soft War for Europe’s East  / Ronald D. Asmus, Next Steps in Forging a Euroatlantic Strategy for the Wider Black Sea. Washington, DC: The German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2006. P. 101–11.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Хотькова Э.С. Эволюция отношений США со странами Центральной и Восточной Европы // Проблемы национальной стратегии. 2009. №1. С. 24.

[xi] Ibid. P. 13

[xii] European Union. External Action. Eastern Parthnership. [Электронный ресурс] URL: (дата обращения - 02.10.2011).

[xiii] Chilos  А. The European Union and its neighbors: "Everything but institutions" [Электронный ресурс]URL: (дата обращения - 20.08.2011).

[xiv] See: Engel-Di Mauro S. The European's burden: global imperialism in EU expansion. N.Y.: Peter Lang, 2006.

[xv] Фоминых Ф.И. Расширение ЕС на восток: стратегия, проблемы, последствия для России. Диссер. на соиск. уч. степени кандидата полит. наук. М., 2008. С.178.

[xvi] United States Mission to the European Union. Transatlantic declaration of 1990. [Электронный ресурс]URL: (дата обращения - 20.08.2011).

[xvii] Савин Л.В. Неоатлантизм в Европе / Дугин А.Г. Лефиафан. Материалы семинара «Геополитика/ Геостратегия». М., 2011. С. 81-90.

[xviii] José Manuel Durão Barroso President of the European Commission . A NEW ATLANTICISM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Brussels Forum 2010 Brussels, 26 March 2010. [Электронный ресурс] URL: (дата доступа  - 19.08.2011).

[xix] Савин Л.В. Неоатлантизм в Европе / Дугин А.Г. Лефиафан. Материалы семинара «Геополитика/ Геостратегия». М., 2011. С. 89.

[xx] РИА-Новости: Украина и Грузия предложили Киргизии присоединиться к своей коалиции. [Электронный ресурс]. URL: (дата обращения - 21.09. 2010).

[xxi] Цит. по  Станет ли Содружество демократического выбора альтернативой СНГ: Портал социально-демократической политики. [Электронный ресурс] URL: (дата доступа -  19.08.2011)

[xxii] Хотькова Э.С. Эволюция отношений США со странами Центральной и Восточной Европы // Проблемы национальной стратегии. 2009. №1. С.16

[xxiii] См.: Терновая Л.О., Николаев К.В. Студенческие революции: социально-инновационный прорыв. М.: Интердиалект+, 2009. С. 239-259.

[xxiv] Rosenberg T. Revolution-U. What Egipt learned from the students, who overthrew Milosevic. Foreign Policy. Electronic Issue [Электронный ресурс] URL:,0 (дата доступа – 17.08.2011).

[xxv] Хотькова Э.С. Эволюция отношений США со странами Центральной и Восточной Европы // Проблемы национальной стратегии. 2009. №1. С. 16.

[xxvi] Central European University. About. [Электронный ресурс] URL: (дата доступа - 15.08 2011)