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Putin Rallies the Troops: Eurasia Prepares to Take on the Globalists

Eurasia is building a political and economic model based on consensus and respect for national sovereignty. And Putin is leading the charge.

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

To the casual observer, Putin's planned visits to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan over the next two days might seem like routine pit stops.

But there's much more to this story. Eurasia is now sitting in the geopolitical driver's seat, and Putin is seizing the moment to accelerate his vision for regional economic integration based on consensus and respect for national sovereignty.

<figcaption>Eurasia economic integration is accelerating</figcaption>
Eurasia economic integration is accelerating

But he can't do it alone.

Kazakhstan in particular has positioned itself as a mediator between east and west. The recent Astana peace talks between Syria and Turkish-backed rebel groups illustrate how Kazakhstan is well positioned to encourage warring parties to come to the negotiating table.


Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have close trade ties to Turkey and Russia's decision to temporarily cut trade with Ankara following the shootdown "incident" in Syria further complicated political and economic cohesion in Central Asia. (Even within the Russian Federation, certain parts of the country were hit harder than others. Bashkortostan, for example, trades heavily with Turkey, so the breakdown in economic and political relations between Ankara and Moscow was devastating for Ufa.)

But instead of bullying its regional partners into "siding" with Russia, Moscow sees Kazakhstan's political leverage as an invaluable asset — and a perfect way to reignite Eurasian economic and political cooperation.

Moscow's CIS Customs Union signaled the first attempt to create an integrated economic space for Russia and its neighbors. The Eurasian Economic Union came into effect at the start of 2015, but results have been lackluster. With the ruble's devaluation, trade partners such as Kyrgyzstan saw their industries actually pack up and move to Russia. In this sense, the value of the ruble could make or break the viability of the Union.

The success of the Eurasian Economic Union depends upon two factors: Stable, productive trade and political relations with Turkey, and accelerated integration with China.

Without close cooperation with China, the EEU is pointless.

Currently the EEU suffers from bureaucratic and regulatory red tape that encumbers infrastructure initiatives headed by Beijing:

Beijing is a leading, if not the leading, investment and trade partner with all the Central Asian states. And now China is pushing its One Belt One Road (OBOR), a massive trade project that foresees linking dozens of countries by road, rail, and maritime routes.

EEU regulations present obstacles to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan's trade with its giant and rich neighbor but at the same time, as MacLeod said, the Chinese have shown "they can actually deliver when they decide to build something." The oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to China, the gas pipelines from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China, the new railway from eastern Uzbekistan to a location near the capital, Tashkent, and newly paved roads in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are proof of this.

So closer cooperation between the EEU and China is likely at the top of Moscow's to-do list.

As Pepe Escobar writes:

Now the name of the game is the slowly but surely interpenetration and integration of the China-led One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU) into a Great Eurasian Emporium.

And what’s striking is that idiosyncratic, self-isolated Turkmenistan, the quintessential gas republic (world’s fourth largest reserves) is not part of the game.


Compare Turkmenistan’s blue gold idiosyncrasies with energy-deprived Tajikistan, which may be on the verge of becoming a full member of the EEU, currently uniting Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

President Putin will soon be on a Central Asian tour of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The proverbial cooperation in trade, investment, energy, education and science will be on the table.

And then there’s the key Tajik issue: migrant labor. That has even spawned an aviation row, as in how many Russian and Tajik airlines are allowed to regularly fly in and out.

Tajikistan may be a large importer of Russian goods and services. But most of all Dushanbe exports its workforce. Remittances account for half of GDP, roughly $4 billion a year. According to the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs in Moscow, there were almost 900,000 Tajik residents in Russia late last year. Counting the black market, it’s way more.

And now Putin is making the rounds. In the coming months, expect to read about Moscow pressing for warp-speed integration with Eurasia. We are already seeing efforts to ink a free trade agreement between the EEU and Iran.

The key to success lies to the east and west. Eurasia will need cordial relations with Turkey, while strengthening ties with China.

It seems that for now, Kazakhstan is the perfect candidate to make this happen.

No wonder Putin is skiing right now with its president.

The final word goes to Escobar:

The World Bank foresees GDP growth of 4% by 2019. Kazakhstan – alongside Iran – features as one of China’s prime trade corridors in the Holy Grail of a single-tariff Eurasia emporium. Kazakhstan’s former Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov could not be more explicit; the aim is to become a “logistics hub for China and Eurasia”. 

OBOR? EEU? Prime trade corridors? Eurasia integration? It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Kazakh swing.

Eurasia is building a political and economic model based on consensus and respect for national sovereignty. And Putin is leading the charge.

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