For the first time in years, Europe and Russia seem to be ending their love affair. Since last year, tensions have grown exponentially, revolving around the Ukrainian crisis. Indeed, both entities would like to keep the country in there sphere of influence, Russia still considering it part of a kind of new coalition created after the fall of the USSR, and Europe trying to get it to join the European Union (EU).
Several events, embodying this increase in tensions, have happened on the sidelines of the Ukraine crisis per se. We can for example think about the presence of a Russian submarine just off the Swedish coast near Stockholm. In addition, Russia decided to conduct unscheduled military exercises in the far North in response to some manoeuvres organised a few weeks before by NATO and the Nordic countries. Russia more and more feels the need to show its strength to its European neighbor.
The latest stage of tensions between Europe and Russia is the Balkan country of the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM), were the political unrest against the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government. As protesters are asking to revive the talks concerning the potential entry of the country in the EU, Moscow is accusing the West to manipulate the protests. Indeed, Macedonia is highly reliant on Russian gas supplies and thus has a history of supporting it, notably refusing to support the European sanctions in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis. Macedonia is also supporting the Russian-led project of a gas pipeline going through Turkey, against the now late European Nabucco project, aiming to deliver gas from Azerbaijan while bypassing Russia completely.
In other developments, Russia banned entry on its territory to 89 EU officials. I have read several articles claiming that these unprecedented tensions since the end of the cold war between Europe and Russia could be leading to an actual war. In my opinion, economic interests are too big on both sides to go to that extent, but we are really, and sadly, witnessing the end of the romance.