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  Vladimir Putin and Eurasian Union

Vadim Volovoj, Doctor in Political Sciences
2011 12 12

In October, on the eve of a new election cycle, Russian daily "Izvestia" published the article by Vladimir Putin „A New Integration Project for Eurasia – The Future Is Born Today”. This article has been subject to scrutiny abroad and the main comment was that Putin was getting prepared for restoration of the Soviet Union, though he assured that “…we are not talking about recreating the USSR in one form or another”.

Putin’s article could be easily related to the approaching presidential elections. Being the main candidate he needs the idea to inspire the electorate. But this is not an easy task. In response to Putin’s article, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenka published the article in "Izvestia" “About the Future of Our Integration”. “This means a lot. There is a strategy behind those words. (…) Politics and politicians get respect only if they are serious and consistent. Thus, there should be no doubt that the intentions outlined by Putin are sincere”, the Belarusian president wrote. According to Lukashenka, Putin suggested creating a Single Economic Space back in 2003. Could the words of a future leader of the Kremlin hide a more serious vision?

We shouldn’t forget that Vladimir Putin served in Germany as a KGB officer, and he seems to be well-disposed toward the country. Aleksandr Dugin’s Russian Geopolitical Neo-Eurasianism Doctrine highlights the importance of strategic partnership between Russia and Germany. The Kremlin is also in good relationship with France, thus the above three countries could serve as a background for a geopolitical alliance of Russia and EU supported by the neo-eurasianists and a “new right-wing” of the European geopolitical camp. According to Putin, “we (…) are putting forward an ambitious task of reaching a new, higher level of integration with the Eurasian Union. (…) Some of our neighbors explain their reluctance to participate in advanced integration projects in the post-Soviet space by saying it allegedly contradicts their European choice. This is a false divide. The Eurasian union will be built on universal principles of integration as an integral part of greater Europe, united by common values of freedom, democracy and market laws."

In view of this, I’d like to highlight two aspects. First of all Vladimir Putin indirectly appeals to Ukraine by saying that the country is not right in rejecting integration with Russia. Secondly, Putin seeks not only the creation of a new USSR (or whatever) but also the Great Europe where the Russian block could boost its influence on the global stage. Behind these Putin’s statements there might be a grand geopolitical plan of Moscow.

The success (failure) of this plan will depend on several factors. Firstly, the project should be supported by Ukraine, whereas Europe’s attitude toward the country shows that Kiev will eventually take Moscow’s direction. Secondly, the success of the project will definitely depend on the personalities of Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Aleksandr Lukashenka. Putin should stay in the top position for longer period, whereas Nazarbayev has nearly sacrificed his country to Moscow, and it is not clear what would happen after Nazarbayev’s withdrawal. Most probably, his successor would continue the course of the predecessor, but there is no guarantee this will happen. But the main issue is the future of Russia as the main engine of the project. Though the country pursues various modernization activities, it cannot reach the goals since is fighting with itself, with own bureaucracy and corruption. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin has finally started talking about serious geopolitical issues and specified the vision of the country which has always been relevant for Russians as a key to breakthrough. Will Putin earn people’s trust? It’ll depend on his actions.

In view of the above, Lithuanian analytical thinking seems to lack behind the systematic global perception of geopolicy and global trends, i.e. the country has not yet recognized the existence of a new strategic reality in the near neighborhood. Lithuania will not create global future but it could at least take part in this process and try to understand the actions of major global actors.

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