Kochetkova Svetlana is a Second year student at the HSE in Russia. This piece is published alongside the YAGE Russia event, giving students a chance to have their work published.
Picture: Golden Ration overlayed on a picture of Donald Trump, source, https://imgur.com/VuDumBt
Relations within the triangle of the United States, Europe and Russia are currently experiencing tough times. Sanctions and counter-sanctions that continue to be imposed due to the contradiction of the parties on several major issues, such as the crisis in the east of Ukraine, especially the annexation of the Crimea, the war in Syria do not lead to a constructive dialogue between the parties. In this report I will propose a number of ideas that, in the my opinion, could contribute to improving relations within the triangle (I insist on trilateral (not the bilateral) nature of these relations, because although European countries often act in coalitions with the United States the idea which will be considered below implies exactly three participants and therefore European countries should be considered as independent players).
Despite the fact that I have highlighted a number of problems above, I do not intend to propose specific ideas for their solution, but I will only try to propose a mechanism through which a more constructive dialogue in a trilateral format could be established, which, in my opinion, is the key to success not only in resolving real problems, but also in developing cooperation in the long-term period.
In my opinion, this mechanism is to establish bilateral ties with key countries of continental Europe, such as France and Germany in the first place, as well as Italy, which since the 1990s has been trying to take a more significant place in the European family, by both the US and Russia. What are reasons for this? Firstly, Russia's relations with the European Union, due to internal disagreements among its members on foreign policy issues, in particular, on relations with Russia (for example, between France and Germany), cannot reflect possible real cooperation on a number of issues with individual countries in Europe, which can be productive. At the same time, nowadays the US prefers to develop bilateral relations with other countries, which can be proved, for example, by US exit from Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Secondly, developing relations with the leading forces of the European Union can lead to a more favorable attitude on the part of other European countries, because most of them depend on locomotives of Europe. Thirdly, France and Germany are competitors in the struggle for leadership in Europe, which, in part, forces them to seek support from key third countries, in most of the US. At the same time, nowadays some of the most important problems, including European and Eurasian ones, are connected with the Russian Federation, that is why (not only because of the EU-RF neighborhood and the important geostrategic position of the Russian Federation as the «bridge» between the EU and China) Russian direction is one of the most important priority of policy of European countries. Also, taking into account the recent statement by the German Chancellor that "Europe must take its own destiny into its own hands", as the times when the United States protected Europe have passed, I can say that Europe aspires to become an independent player. And for this, I think, it should develop more close ties, including those with the Russian Federation.
However, since it is difficult to imagine that the US will cease to be a No. 1 partner of Europe, such cooperation with Russia and USA can become a platform for coordinating the interests of all three parties. Moreover, we have an example of such cooperation. So, Italy's foreign policy in the late 1990s and early 2000s could serve as an example of this interaction, when, wishing to become one of the "protagonists" of world politics, Italy established a dialogue with both the US and Russia, trying to become a platform to coordinate the interests of the parties. Thus, Italy tried both to promote the establishment of a productive dialogue and to increase its importance on the international scene. Although this experience cannot be called completely successful, it can be explained by the fact that Italy did not have resources to play a key role in European foreign policy, which can be overcome by interaction with France and Germany.
In this regard, it is also important to note the methods by which cooperation should be developed. In my opinion, although the theory of soft power is very interesting and, in some cases, effective, it is not suitable for improving Russia's perception abroad. This does not mean that attempts to do this should be completely refused, but since they can be perceived as propaganda, they should not be abused, especially because Russia does not have the resources to conduct large-scale actions. What should Russia, Europe and USA do? In my opinion, they should build a dialogue on the implementation of specific joint projects, both in the energy sector and in foreign policy. For example, Russian cooperation with Italy to resolve problems in Libya is in the interests not only of this country, but it can also be perceived as part of the resolution of the general problem of instability in the region, which has led to large-scale migration to European countries and, consequently, has exacerbated security problems.
Taking into account the remaining partnership of Europe and the United States, the development of a productive dialogue with Europe should entail the development of such a dialogue with the United States.
Thus, solving specific local problems we pave a road that will lead us to solutions of more acute contradictions.
 Кукарцева М.А. Томанн П.-Э. Франко-германская ось Европейского союза и Россия.[ Electronic resource] URL: http://politeia.ru/files/articles/rus/Politeia-2018-1(88)-117-134.pdf
 Germany’s Merkel Says Europe Must Take Destiny Into Its Own Hands. 10.05.2018.[Electronic resource]. URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/germanys-merkel-says-europe-must-stay-united-despite-differences-with-allies-1496002573