Routledge: European Security, Vol. 21, page(s): 102-121
The brief war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 provoked vigorous international reactions among the European states as consequence of the sudden shift in the strategic balance. This article argues for a focus on the great powers France, Germany and Britain as crucial actors for understanding the policy reactions towards Russia. It argues furthermore that reactions must be explained from the perspective of experience based on past geopolitics which translate the external pressures into concrete foreign policy: France oriented towards the creation of a strong EU as global actor, Germany influenced by her self-imposed restraint in foreign affairs and Britain influenced by Atlanticist commitments in her balancing behaviour. Beyond the Russo-Georgian war, the article points to an interest-based foreign policy approach towards Russia in the longer term driven by a great power concert with the Franco-German axis as stable element but increasingly with backing from Britain, thus contributing to transatlantic foreign policy convergence on the issue.