Alina Sayfutdinova (PhD student) works on relations between the EU and the Russian Federation

Alina Sayfutdinova is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University.

Russia and the EU have a complex relationship outlines by several mutual interests as well as ideological contrast. While they are prevented from formulating an official alliance due to these differences, the EU relies on Russia for energy resources. This complex relationship has captured the interest of numerous scholars, including Alina Sayfutdinova. 


What attracted you to the field of European Studies/fascinated you about the EU?


Globally, the energy sector is going through a major transformation as it responds to the charge that the burning of fossil fuels has directly caused a dramatic, man-made change in climate. Climate change is possibly the most important and devastating challenge mankind faces. On a positive note, the sector has been shaken by new technologies which have already had a significant impact on businesses, NGOs and governance. Politically, the energy question has had a considerable impact on the European Union (EU), putting it in a very awkward and dependent position with energy suppliers, not least with Russia. Already, the issue has spawned many studies of EU-Russian energy relations. The question of energy security in the EU is unresolved and will remain a high priority on its political agenda.

This very particular issue has rekindled my interest in European politics and international relations. As I embarked on my graduate studies at Carleton University, I further deepened my interests in critical/realist theory, security dilemmas, and security practices.

My graduate research project at Carleton’s Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, was focused on the issue of energy security. I have examined how EU-Russia energy relations have changed from 2000 until 2018 by analyzing how four central discourses -- liberalisation, interdependence, supply security, and environmentalism -- have been employed over that period.

Recently, in my Ph.D. program, I have been stimulated by the topic of the democratic deficit in the EU. As in the years since the economic crisis, the politics of the European Union has often been discussed in terms of a democratic deficit, a lack of trust in governing institutions, and the widespread resurgence of populism and nationalism. A number of a theorists have related these outcomes to the fact that a European demos or “people” does not appear to have taken root strongly enough across the EU’s member states in the European population.


What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?


Concrete economic ties have been laid in the form of pipelines and other infrastructure, a trend which continues today with the construction of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. Since the end of the Cold War, segments of European discourse have increasingly taken to view this interdependence as a negative, while others have viewed it positively, and others still see developments as a neutral fact that must form the basis of future plans. There is, therefore, a complex landscape of discourses around the energy, and particularly gas, relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation.


The driving question is if and how dominant discourses have changed over this period, how these changes reflect political realities, and what the political function, if any, of those changes could be.


Alina Sayfutdinova is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. Her research focuses on the theoretical basis of International Relations and Public Policy. She also holds an MA in European studies from Carleton University. Her Master's research focused on Securitization Theory and EU discourse on energy relations with Russia. She also holds a BA (Hon.) in Politics and Governance from Ryerson University.

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