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Putin's Eurasian Union Deserves a Second Look

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

The reaction in much of the Western press to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's proposal of a Eurasian Union at the beginning of October was more or less predictable to longtime Russia watchers. Familiar accusations of Russian neo-imperialism and wild claims about a "new Soviet Union" abounded, feeding into a general narrative of Russia as a looming threat that must be contained.

These fears are premature, to say the least. As Richard Weitz pointed out in his WPR column last week, the idea of some form of overarching supranational organization for the post-Soviet states has been a hallmark of Russian foreign policy practically since the Yeltsin years. But it has never been particularly realistic due to political tensions among those states and the slim record of successful multilateral institution-building in the former Soviet Union so far. Moreover, in light of the significant dips in popularity experienced recently by Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev and their party, United Russia, this latest proposal is most likely little more than campaign rhetoric. ...

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