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Putin Plans Eurasian Union

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, October 11
Soon after it was officially declared that Putin would return to the Russian presidency on October 4 an article was published in Russian newspaper Izvestia. The article laid out Vladimir Putinís programme for his new term as president. The programme heralded a new integration project for Eurasia. Analysts worldwide suggest it is Putinís foreign policy concept for his future governance. The idea behind it is to create new type of amalgamation out of the post-Soviet countries, united around Russia. Though Putin claims that it would be an EU-type of entity, many people either in Russia or elsewhere see behind this initiative a discrete declaration of imperialistic claims. However cheerfully Putin promotes the voluntary principle of joining this artificial amalgamation it is obvious that in many cases the Kremlin would impose its imperatives on its close neighbours.

Many former Soviet countries have a feeling that this close integration with the Russian Federation would oppose their national interest. Putin, it seems, wants to wrap his imperialistic motivations in an attractive form. According to him, something like a liberal empire should be created and here Putin emphasizes economic interests. This is a repackaging of previous declarations of a Russian liberal empire and Russian interests in the near abroad. In those declarations the political ambition was emphasized with Russia leading politically proximate states throughout Eurasia. This has never proved particularly attractive Ė even Belarus ended up recoiling at the prospect of greater political union with Russia. However, now Putin looks to attract his neighbours through talking up economic incentives.

The first steps for creating such an amalgamation have already been taken previously. Russia created a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan and is attempting to establish a united economic space between these countries. Putin plans to extend this union in the direction of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in the first place. Of course the most important place to draw in for Russia is Ukraine. However, so far Kiev has resisted the different temptations Moscow has offered it.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili responded immediately to Putinís article and mentioned that Russia wants to restore the Soviet Union calling it the wildest idea yet of Russian nationalists in the Kremlin. Integration into this Eurasian amalgamation is absolutely unacceptable for Georgia because it is based on absolutely different values. The difference between Putinís idea and national interests are clear in Ukraine as well. The speaker of the Georgian parliament Davit Bakradze thinks that Putin as president of Russia would try to restore the Soviet Union in practice if not in name, and under these conditions integration with Europe will be for Georgia not a luxury but a vital and pressing issue growing in importance rapidly.

In this regard, Georgian analysts and leaders evaluate the recent visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Tbilisi as a very important signal for Georgiaís further moves. Though Sarkozy recommended the Georgian and Russian leadership start a dialogue instead of confrontation, now Georgia has another threat coming from the north. Firstly it was Russian tanks, now it is Putinís latest attempt at empire building. Either way you look at it, with Putin back in power, the Russians are coming.