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Putin’s Eurasian dream may soon become a nightmare


The Ukraine invasion has detrimental consequences for the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, a project which has been stumbling since its inception.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – consisting of Russia with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – represents the culmination of Russia’s pursuit of regional integration with its post-Soviet neighbours.

Officially, the Union has an ambitious economic goal – the creation of a market based on common rules for its five member states and their 180 million citizens – and Russia likes to portray the EAEU as an Eurasian replica of the European Union (EU).

But although a common market was placed at the heart of the EAEU as a way to appeal to member states, it is of marginal importance for the Russian economy. For Moscow, the EAEU is primarily a geopolitical tool to help re-assert its regional and global role.

In a world of evermore powerful trading blocs, Moscow wants to use the EAEU to establish its own economic power base in the new polycentric world order. But Russia’s limited interest in the technocratic intricacies needed for the economic union to live up to its lofty proclamations exposes the real geopolitical ambitions.

The Kremlin has no qualms about disregarding the common rules when they clash with Russia’s own foreign policy, and it soon became evident the EAEU was a means to an end rather than an equitable institution within which Russia would accept constraints on its unilateral behaviour.

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