The Russian elite have realized that the country will have to live in a new reality that differs from the past rosy dreams of integration with the West, while preserving its independence and sovereignty. Yet they have not yet used the confrontation and the growth of patriotism for an economic revival.
Ever since Vladimir Putin launched the Eurasian Union project in 2011, scholars and the media have tended to analyze it as the victory of the Eurasianist ideology. This memo investigates the relationship between Eurasia, Eurasianism, and the Eurasian Union project.
EEU is a young integration association, that was formed to help participating countries unlock their economic potential, boost economic ties within the region, and create conditions for improving the countries’ global competitiveness.
A new generation of technical experts who will represent Russia’s interests in Eurasian infrastructure projects should ensure the transfer of technologies and competencies. Effective development of new applied sinology centers will ensure the construction of a pan-Eurasian infrastructure for the benefit of all countries of the continent.
In the fifteen years since the 1998 crisis, the so-called Emerging and Developing Asia has become a new engine of global economic growth.
At the summit in Ufa, Russia should give the green light to the establishment of an SCO Development Bank where China takes dominant positions in the authorized capital and management bodies. In exchange, Moscow could coordinate investment principles on terms that would be most favorable to itself and its partners.
Today even raising the question of an economic integration agreement between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union seems a non-starter. Recent economic sanctions have severely hurt economic cooperation between the two political entities. Yet the foundations of any new institution are frequently set out in times of crisis.
For the first time in history, Russia, previously only as a military power, now has a chance to enter the Asia-Pacific region as a factor of peace. And this may make it a unique player, so much needed to balance Asia.
Karl Marx famously remarked that major historical events occur twice – the “first time as tragedy, then as farce.” In Ukraine, sadly, tragedy and farce are inseparable.
The West has made “partnerships” with other post-Soviet countries such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but none of them can be considered true democracies.
A majority of Russians do not welcome rapprochement with Central Asian states and strongly object to having equal employment rights with citizens of those countries. Any moves which might lead to a real increase in the number of migrants in Russia will further plunge the authorities’ popularity ratings.
The idea of the North – a philosophy of the unity of Northern Eurasian peoples – is a cementing and goal-setting force and also the natural and organic basis for building a continental Eurasian association. This philosophy occupies the next tier after the ideas of united Europe and Russian Eurasianism.
In addition to purely economic arguments, one needs some ideological basis for a Eurasian Union. The other factor is whether or not the integration policy will be continued after a new generation of the elites comes to power, and the nature of relationships between new leaders.
While the American elites take time to debate and prioritize their national interests, there is no similar dialogue going on within Russian elites. As society at large did not form an appreciation of what Russia’s true interests are, we can’t see whether we are failing or succeeding.
Eurasia is not the same as the post-Soviet space, and its borders cannot be regarded as fixed once and for all by the Soviet past. Whereas the post-Soviet space can indeed be the best region for integration in certain aspects, other options might envision a different combination of countries.
The Russian geopolitical code is shifting from Western-centric to non-Western-centric, and from global to regional. The formation of a new center of power around Russia may not be smooth. It will inevitably face resistance from countries which Moscow considers to be part of its geopolitical space.
Tendencies will continue – a geopolitical shift towards Eurasia and the Asia Pacific Region; symbolic ‘sovereignization’ of Russia and its further distancing from the U.S. and Europe; and the erosion of a foreign policy consensus. The fourth edition of Putin’s foreign policy will most likely differ significantly from the previous three.
Changes are sweeping the world, denying opportunities for the countries to focus on anything in earnest. They have only time to react to new and unexpected twists and turns, but no time to contemplate and devise strategies.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.