Redefining Europe: Russia and the 2015 Refugee Crisis
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This article uses approaches embedded in practical and popular geopolitics for analysing how Russia capitalizes on the refugee crisis to redefine Europe. Two of Russia’s European policies are at the centre of this analysis: 1) Moscow’s direct appeal to Russian-speaking communities, and 2) the Kremlin’s liaisons with Eurosceptic parties of national conservative background. The main questions these two policies raise are: 1) how Russia benefits from anti-refugee attitudes among European national conservative groups, and 2) how illustrative Russia’s policies are of Moscow’s strategy toward Europe in the context of the refugee crisis. The article argues that, for Russia, these two policies constitute a strategy of re-entry into Europe from which Moscow was increasingly isolated in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In this context, the authors claim that the refugee crisis has widened room for Russia’s return to the European (geo)political scene through a strategy of redefining Europe in more conservative and traditionalist terms, as opposed to the liberal cosmopolitanism of EU’s project. Using the concepts of trans-ideology and biopolitics, the article claims that Russia’s strategy of re-entry includes narratives of othering today’s Orientalized Europe and salvaging it from liberal tolerance, political correctness and cultural fragmentation.