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Why Putin Can't Sell the Eurasian Dream


Russian President Vladimir Putin has been racking up small- and medium-sized wins lately (Edward Snowden, Syria), but do these make up for the fact that his biggest ambition is falling apart? Putin’s dream of creating a Eurasian Union, transforming the rigor mortis of modern day Russia back into a Soviet-style superpower, has hit one roadblock after another. The biggest one came when Ukraine (the lynchpin to regaining the former Soviet glory) chose to move forward with strengthening trade ties with the EU, notwithstanding Putin’s claims that doing so would be “suicidal.”

The National Interest explains why Putin’s Eurasian Union project was doomed from the start:

The European Union has struggled with various dilemmas and problems for nearly 50 years and in every step of its integration. But its successes can be attributed to one key feature that Eurasian Union lacks—the desire and willingness of each member to share responsibility and to delegate power.

The apparent loss of Ukraine and social dangers of integration with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan leave Russia only with the current members of its Customs Union—Belarus and Kazakhstan. But neither President Lukashenko, nor President Nazarbayev, who have ruled their countries for nineteen and twenty-three years respectively, are inclined to sacrifice their patiently gathered powers on the altar of an unknown leviathan.

Putin’s sales pitch leaves a lot to be desired. He has spent more time bullying potential members of the Eurasian Union than wooing them with a convincing promise of a brighter future.

Then again, with the EU on one side and China on the other, Russia’s corruption, inefficiency, and lawlessness make for an unappealing choice. Whether he lets on the fact, he knows all this; hence the emphasis on strong-arming, not courting. Putin is a clever man and even a strong leader, but he’s presiding over a country in rapid decline, and he hasn’t been able to fully disguise that fact from his neighbors.

[Photo courtesy of Getty Images.]

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  • rheddles

    Baraq Obama is the best thing to happen to Putin.

    • bpuharic

      He’s causing Russia to collapse? Gee. Who woulda thought someone would say THAT on WRM’s blog!

    • Corlyss

      LOL Amen, Rhed. I’m sure Khrushchev thought the same about JFK.

  • Pete

    Yes, Russia is a country in decline and one of the reasons is its demographic collapse.

    • Jim__L

      After 5 years of Obama we’re starting to slip down that drain ourselves.

      I just hope that repealing Obama’s policies and evicting the Democrats from their positions of influence on our society can be done soon enough to reverse the slide.

      • bpuharic

        How’d that whole ‘making the rich richer’ motif go for the GOP when they cut capital gains and Wall Street thanked us by sending the economy into recession?

  • Bob_from_Ohio

    Scoring points against empty suits like Kerry and Obama does not change the fundamentals that Russia is a second rate, declining power with nukes.

    It can’t compete with the EU, let alone the Us.

  • Corlyss

    EU doesn’t need a tail as huge, troubled, insecure, tyrannical, corrupt, and truly hopeless as Russia and its citizenry are.

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