Global Insights: Dim Prospects for Putin’s Eurasian Union

Global Insights: Dim Prospects for Putin’s Eurasian Union

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin followed up his unsurprising Sept. 24 declaration that he would again seek the presidency with a more surprising call: to create what he called a "Eurasian Union." In a rare and lengthy newspaper piece published on Oct. 4, Putin announced his desire for Russia to again lead a multinational bloc of tightly bound, former Soviet republics. But major obstacles stand in the way of Putin's project, and the prospects of a new Eurasian Union emerging anytime soon in the former Soviet space are small.

Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the influential Kommersant newspaper that the Eurasian Union would be one of Putin's "key priorities" during his next term as president. Russia is already consolidating its recently formed Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which will take effect next year. The intent now seems to be to expand the number of its members and to enlarge its functions and powers.

Putin is a well-known fan of the Soviet Union. He has publicly told of the dismay he felt as a prominent KGB officer in Dresden, East Germany, at the time the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe was collapsing, when his requests for guidance from Moscow went unanswered. Putin also famously termed the USSR's 1991 disintegration the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century."

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