Is Russia a European Stat e?
Is Russia a European State?
The question of whether or not Russia is a European state has no single answer. The ‘boundary’ between Europe and Russia has been shifted back and forth more than once, most recently upon the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. Thus, the current accepted border running south from the Urals is, as argued by Baranovsky, “more symbolic than natural.” This natural geographical uncertainty, the history of Russia and Europe (particularly over the last hundred years) and the often unclear political situation existing between the two entities leaves us with a question that must be broken up into parts before we can have a clear picture. Given even this, we must inevitably conclude that opinions may differ on whether Russia can ever truly be included as a European state. In order to adequately dissect the question we will discuss both sides of the argument in relation to history, geography, culture, economics and politics.
A Brief History
The Russian national identity has like every other culture and nation been formed by various historic transitions and changes, depending on a mix of cultural, geographic and emigrational elements.
In the area of today’s western Russia, scientists believe that early Norse settlers (Vikings) from Scandinavia merged with the indigenous East Slavs during the 10th century to form a culture called Kievan Rus. During the same period of time, Christianity with the Eastern Orthodox religion was introduced due to influence from the Middle East. Later on more eastern influences came into power when Mongols invaded and migrated into the country thus leading to a weakened Rus entity. The Mongols’ influence on society stayed strong during several hundred years even though their political power was declining towards the 14th century when Moscow started to become an important power with the evolving Tsardom. Russia as a state expanded even further eastbound...