Putin’s power play jeopardizes Eurasian Union plans

(By Deutsche Welle) President Vladimir Putin aims to create an Eurasian Union where the Soviet Union once reigned. But Moscow’s intervention in Crimea could make former Soviet republics think twice about deeper integration with Russia.

During his annual address to the Russian parliament back in 2005, President Putin publicly lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union, calling it “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” The former KGB man laid out his solution to this “disaster” in a 2011 newspaper editorial, in which he called for the creation of an Eurasian Union.

“First, none of this entails any kind of revival of the Soviet Union,” Putin wrote in the daily Izvestia. “It would be na├»ve to revive or emulate something that has been consigned to history. But these times call for a close integration based on new values and a new political and economic foundation.”

“We suggest a powerful supranational association capable of becoming one of the poles in the modern world and serving as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region,” he continued.

Neighboring Belarus and Kazakhstan have signed up to join Russia in this integration project. In 2010, the three ex-Soviet republics formed a common customs union. Meanwhile, they have agreed to make the Eurasian Economic Union a reality by January 1, 2015.

“According to Putin, it has to be a political alliance, not only the customs union, with supranational institutions that will be hosted by Moscow and apparently dominated by Russia,” Lilia Shevtsova, a Russia expert with Carnegie Moscow, told DW.

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Russia juggles its developing partnerships with the West and China

(By Deutsche Welle)Russia has reset its relationship with the US and the EU while consolidating its partnership with China. In order to secure its national interests, Moscow must manage a tricky balancing act between the West and the East.

Flush with cash from booming oil and gas exports, Moscow unilaterally pursued Russian national interests during Vladimir Putin’s tenure as president. In the process, Russia’s relationship with the West deteriorated to a historic low point.

But then the economic crisis hit. Energy prices collapsed and Russia’s rapid growth ground to a halt.

After Dmitry Medvedev assumed the presidency in 2008, Moscow sought to jump start the slumping Russian economy through so-called “modernization alliances” with the US and the EU. Yet at the same time, the oil-rich country began consolidating its “strategic partnership” with an oil-hungry China. Russia wanted to pursue its national interests in economic modernization and growth and knew that it needed both the West and China in these endeavors.

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