Relations between Russia, Europe, and the United States are in flux as none is able or wants to maintain what it once had. An attempt to revive the Cold War paradigm has failed, and a new framework of relations has not formed. This state of uncertainty will most likely endure until each player achieves a measure of domestic stability.
Russia’s new relationship with the EU could be that of a hybrid vehicle that can run either off the old internal combustion model of East-West geopolitical division or off the new system of global, regional, and sub-regional regimes that preserve and expand the “shared spaces” of Russia and Europe.
Expectations of the first meeting between presidents Putin and Trump were low, and the U.S. president stood to lose out however the encounter went. But any agreement to manage the risks in the relationship counts as an achievement.
By inviting Putin to Versailles, Macron threw his hat in the ring for the role of a new geopolitical leader in Europe. He made this decision in the context of not just bilateral relations but also France’s relations with the West and the EU. Macron is trying to demonstrate his ability to confront the bad guys, draw red lines, and differentiate between pragmatic objectives and overarching values.
Russians’ fondness for Donald Trump doesn’t mean that anti-American sentiment has suddenly disappeared in Russia. But even though Trump’s election is unlikely to reverse decades of mistrust, his statements about improving relations with Russia have already had an impact on Russians’ attitudes toward the United States.