The emergence of a Eurasian Union
By Ioannis Michaletos/The Eurasian Union is a term coined in 2011 by the President of Russia, based on previous ideas and aims to re-establish the greater part of the old U.S.S.R. from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and more specifically of the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and even Ukraine. Should this plan go forward as envisaged, it will constitute a major geopolitical and historical change in world politics with multilayered consequences.
First of all as it can be understood due to the sheer size of Russia in this future Union and it’s political, diplomatic and military strength it will constitute a definite center of gravity with Kremlin at the epicenter of the culminations. As an exchange it is supposed that Russia will offer security guarantees to its smaller partners and access to its emerging consumer base. At this point several peripheral Eurasia political developments should be examined that shed light to the developments ahead.
Ukraine which is fiercely contested by three global entities, such as USA, EU-Germany and Russia, has decisively moved closer to the Russian lines and the plans to be included in the Eurasian Union since the 2010 Presidential elections and the October 2012 Parliamentary elections. In the latter, the “Party of Regions”, the KPU and a few other smaller ones, representing to an extent by their stance, towards stronger ties with Russia, managed to win the elections compared to the parties keeping a distance from the Russian side. The reasons for that move of the Ukrainian electorate are mostly two-fold. One factor is the creeping economic and debt crisis of the European Union that managed to tarnish the idea of an economic progress by venturing towards a road to an eventual accession with the EU. Another basic point is the economic interdependence between Ukraine and Russia. Currently there are at least 4 million Ukrainians working in Russia and the bilateral between them could well exceed 40 billion USD in 2013 with further increase to be expected in the coming years.
Another notable development is the change of guards in Georgia in October 2012, where the political party “Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia”, won an overwhelming victory, signaling a shift towards defrosting relations with Moscow that were effectively stopped after the August 2008 war between the two countries.
By taking into account the aforementioned recent developments, several other factors should be considered for an eventual estimation of a creation of a Eurasian Union in the coming years. First is the crisis in the EU that could well spiral to a political one, thus closing in effect the accession process and providing as an economic alternative to Eurasian countries the Russian option.
Moreover, the multiple commitments of the American diplomacy, that has tried in times to pursue a vigorous inclusion into NATO of several CIS countries, puts forward serious obstacles in that respect. Nowadays, the aftermath of the Arab Spring has concluded with a fragile political landscape in Libya, Egypt and with a destructive situation is Syria that could well spread to either Lebanon or Iraq, whilst Iran’s nuclear ambitions continue to constitute a major headache for policy makers in Washington. In addition the rising economic and most importantly geo-strategic power of China and the delicate process for the American and NATO forces wishing to withdraw from Afghanistan, pushes forward a Russo-American Modus Vivendi that actually assists for the establishment of a Eurasian Union complimentary to the long-term strategy of Washington of balancing the various state and non-state forces that have been raging out of control in most peripheral parts of the Eurasian territory.
At that point it would be interesting to examine how in practical terms such a Union could be formed and the commentary of officials from the countries specified, point out that a free trade zone would be pursued firstly, along with a single immigration zone designed to allow free travel of people between Central Asia-Russia and up to the Baltics. In parallel a military Union is at hand based on mutual air-defense and satellite systems that are provided to all the countries by the same Russian industries. In economic terms it is reasonable to assume that the Ruble would be proposed as a single or primary currency, since it can be supported by substantial foreign exchange reserves and the vast amount of commodities produced and traded with it, within the proposed Eurasian Union.
Should all the above are implemented, it is more than certain that this Union will function in international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, WTO as a monolithic entity, thus altering the current geopolitical status and bringing about significant changes in the world diplomacy that in turn will further accelerate the progress of peripheral Unions in a global scale such as of those in Latin America or in South East Asia.
Lastly, it should be noted that Russia has for years enacted a multibillion Dollars investment program in its railway system to connect the Baltic Sea and the European Union to the emerging Asian markets. In fact more than 15 billion USD are being spent annually in order to construct a Eurasian commercial route that will not be the subject of geostrategic control of the Sea route between Gibraltar-Suez-Aden-Singapore by the American interests. Similar projects are at hand concerning oil and natural gas transcontinental pipeline systems.
That policy is identical with the 19th Century one of the then Tsarist Russia to establish the trans-Siberian railway in order to spread into Asia without relaying in the British controlled Sea Lines of communication (SLOC). It is ironic that after well more than a century and three world wars, the geopolitical realities over the course of history repeat themselves.