So what new order is now emerging? During the 10th EUREN meeting, participants have debated whether it makes sense to speak of "taking sides" in Europe (see EUREN Chronicle 7, September 2019). The "sides" in question are binary choices, between Russia on the one hand and the EU and NATO on the other. If there are no sides, everyone exists in a common Europe (and environs), where good relations with Russia are compatible with strong ties with the EU. If there are sides, countries must make choices – Russia, the so-called "West," or some kind of neutrality. Countries that feel threatened by Russia, including some of its neighbors, hope that their allies and partners will, in fact, take their side. Countries that do not feel threatened may discount those perspectives, and seek ways to support friends and allies that do not aggravate a split with Moscow. They may also not want sides to be taken, for they do not want political conflict to turn into military conflict. The dangers of nuclear escalation mean that the costs of large-scale war in Europe today are even higher than they were in the first half of the 20thcentury, when two world wars devastated the continent.
Russia's own policies, however, seem to suggest that it does not mind the idea of a binary split in Europe, despite the risks. The country's history, including its recent history, has led it to seek security by promoting its own power and influence. If the choices are binary, and Russia is one of those choices, then its power and influence are cemented. If, however, everyone exists in a common Europe, Russia's interests and perspectives may be more easily overruled.
Thus, those who fear Russia want guarantees that allies and partners may not be able to give. Russia, for its part, remains nervous about those partners and allies, even if they don't support the countries that seek their help. A less involved US complicates the equation further. If the US doesn't put itself at the center of European security, then far more work will fall to the states of the region. The new challenge for Europe, then, is to find a path to security despite substantial disagreement on what the threats are and uncertainty as to what the role of the US is.