News / Europe

Putin Kicks Off Eurasian Union, Without Ukraine

From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko before meeting of Eurasian Economic Union, Astana, Kazakhstan, May 29, 2014.
From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko before meeting of Eurasian Economic Union, Astana, Kazakhstan, May 29, 2014.
James Brooke
Moscow increasingly speaks of Russia’s “sphere of influence." And, on Thursday, President Vladimir Putin took a major step in securing that position by creating a shared market of former Soviet states to help integrate economic policy.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an agreement establishing the Eurasian Economic Union at a meeting in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.
 
With Armenia and Kyrgyzstan set to join by the end of this year, the union is to link five of the 15 former republics of the Soviet Union. Some call this Moscow-centered group “Soviet Lite.”

But as a sea of black business suits filled the 3,000-seat Palace of Independence in Astana, Moscow’s big prize was absent: Ukraine.
Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus mapRussia, Kazakhstan, Belarus map
x
Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus map
Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus map
 

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko broke protocol, and bluntly lamented that Ukraine had “dropped out.”
 
"Sooner or later," he said, "I'm sure one day the leaders of Ukraine will understand where the country's happiness lies.”
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin was more diplomatic. For the last year, he has worked - overtly and covertly  - to bring Ukraine back into Moscow’s sphere of influence.
 
“The transfer of certain powers to national bodies of the (Eurasian Economic) Union brings absolutely no harm to the sovereignty of our states,” said Putin.
 
Ukraine has 46 million people -10 million more than the combined populations of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Putin to keep eye on Ukraine
 
New York University Russia expert Mark Galeotti said that Putin remains determined to orient Kyiv toward Moscow.
 
“I would be surprised if Putin was willing to accept Ukraine not being part of the Eurasian Economic Customs Union, for the simple reason that, without Ukraine, that union looks increasingly threadbare. It is little more than a series of bilateral relationships with Russia. Ukraine in this respect is crucial, and this explains quite why the Russians have been so bloody minded in their dealings with this,” Galeotti said.
 
In short, Russia’s president wants Kyiv to look to Moscow, not to Brussels.
 
But in Kyiv on Thursday, Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko, said he plans to sign an economic association pact with the European Union by mid-June.
 
Georgia and Moldova are to sign similar pacts on June 27. The three former Soviet Baltic republics - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -  already are full-fledged EU members.
 
For the last six months, Ukraine’s protest movement has demanded that Ukraine take the path toward Europe. This popular revolt forced Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, to flee Ukraine in February.

Did Russia already lose Ukraine?

In Moscow, Carnegie analyst Masha Lipman says that Putin’s crusade to force - or cajole - Ukraine into the Eurasian Union is a lost cause.
 
“To bring Ukraine to the Eurasian Union, this is something in the past. If Ukraine ever joins the Eurasian Union, it will take a political crisis in Ukraine, and a reorientation from the West towards Russia,” said Lipman.
 
By the end of this year, the former Soviet Union will have new fault lines.
 
Five republics will be in Putin’s Eurasian Union. Six will be affiliated with the European Union. And four will not be tied to either bloc.
 
Lipman says Moscow has a geostrategic plan.
 
“With such membership, the Eurasian Union looks small, and not impressive. But apparently President Putin is looking at taking advantage of a change of the global system, of the U.S. gradually losing its position of sole superpower, the rise of China, and maybe this Eurasian Union is part of something bigger.”

No foregone conclusions on Eurasian Union

But just as pro-Russia secessionists fight Kyiv on Ukraine’s eastern edge, not everyone is happy with their new affiliation. Armenia has seen demonstrations against joining the Eurasian Union.
 
And on Thursday in Kazakhstan, police in Astana detained dozens of protesters. They wore surgical masks and held up posters saying: "Protect Yourself from Russia's Imperial Virus!"
 
But, in Russia, big power projection is increasingly popular.
 
On Thursday, Russia’s state-run VTsIOM polling center released data indicating that 82 percent of respondents thought that Russia now wields “big influence” in world affairs - almost a 50 percent jump from six years ago.
 
Pollsters asked 1,600 people across Russia: Should Russia regain the superpower status of the Soviet Union?
 
Forty-two percent answered yes.
 
The Eurasian Economic Union of today could become a geopolitical one tomorrow.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nashingun from: Timbuktu
May 31, 2014 1:46 AM
This is a funny three stoogies economic alliance! lol So should we be alarmed and tremble in awe? lol I'm not even gonna think we need to worry what currency this Union's gonna used but they can technically start with the old soviet currency! lol

by: Frank Capra from: Ekaterinburg RU
May 30, 2014 5:56 PM
President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko look about as comfortable standing next to Adolf V Putin as would a cheap New Orleans Hooker standing in the front row pew for Sunday services. Your part of my union. Or else! Adolf's saying. Heil Putin!

by: Igor from: Seattle
May 30, 2014 12:45 PM
Sooner or later Ukraine will be in this union cause Putin wants to regain the superpower status of the Soviet Union where Ukraine will have their important role in economic, geopolitical sense. By the way in historical sense the eastern Ukraine essentially is a part of the Russia and Russia will never give up to lose this part of land. In other way if Russia will see they will lose the Ukraine as a member of this Eurasian union they will try to take at least eastern part of the Ukraine.
In Response

by: Blah from: New York
May 30, 2014 11:38 PM
Blah. Igor. You are not even count Ihor, my friend. Keep dreaming your imperial dream, but awakening will be horrible.

by: Anonymous
May 30, 2014 12:21 PM
Who is going to be the next brave slave to dare to break free from the KGB's grip of death?

by: Natalia Bubnova from: Moscow
May 30, 2014 6:52 AM
"For the last six months, Ukraine’s protest movement has demanded that Ukraine take the path toward Europe"? Actually, for the last three months, the bulk of the protest movement in Ukraine has been in favor of the federalizion of the country, taking into account the position of the South and East of Ukraine, and retaining Russian as the second official language. Kiev and the West alike have called these people "separatists" or "pro-Russian militants," yet their main slogan was "federalization," not "separation."

Separatist trend grew with the increased violence on behalf of Kiev. Their main goal was to be heard, to take part in the decisions concerning their country. It is against these protesters that the military action is taking place now. The Russian state-run media indeed has been covering these events from a one-sided position, though there are many alternative news sources in Russia. Yet the western media also takes a biased stance - not showing the shelling of cities and the victims among the unarmed civilians in the East of Ukraine, including women and children.

by: Syakoyna from: XXX
May 30, 2014 4:39 AM
How accurate is pooling system in Russia when the media is owned by their government and control by them...LOL so funny....
In Response

by: Stephano Ugarte from: Michigan
May 30, 2014 10:33 AM
The US media is corrupt as hell. You are too stupid to see it.
The media picks your politicians for you. Joos control the US media. It's all about the Zionist Neocon agenda. Never in the best interest of the American people.

by: Vovan from: Central Ukraine
May 30, 2014 3:27 AM
Main geopolitical trend of the West is one - to help Ukraine. Ukraine three centuries dreamed to break from the "cuddles" of Russia. Helping Ukraine, the West will be on the light side of history. Russia does not release Ukraine mainly because Russia stole history at Ukraine. Russia pretended, that Ukrainian history - it is her, of Russia, history.
Fear to be disrobed in the myths - here reason for Russia to torment Ukraine!
Russia outlays the milliards of dollars on propaganda to slander Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

by: Ernani D. Medenilla
May 30, 2014 2:45 AM
Sounds so pathetic Putin trying to play king of the world. This union will be dissolve in no time. Carnival of clowns. This union has happened before in Soviet times, will never work now.
In Response

by: Ernani Medenilla
May 31, 2014 9:57 AM
Addis Ababa,
Being impartial? Kindly listen to yourself of how your Russian mentality tries to twist things around. How could you say NATO meddling with other country's affairs when in this crisis it was Russia annexing Crimea as it manipulated Ukraine politics for more than 5 years? It is obvious how ousted president Viktor Yanukovych run to hide in Moscow a puppet of Putin carrying most of Ukraine's $32 billion money? Yet you accuse NATO of meddling with other country's affairs? Russia has no business inside Ukraine! NATO is just supporting its own members like Poland calling for troop deployment incase Russia felt to stage same pro-Russian armed separatists movements in its borders! You have the audacity to twist things around when obviously Russia is the culprit here. All Russian speaking Ukrainians aren't Russian citizens. Anyone who does must leave Ukraine. Ukraine land is for Ukrainians, all Russian citizens does not have any right being there.
In Response

by: Alemu from: Addis Ababa
May 30, 2014 8:23 AM
Medenlla! Be impartial on your opinion as this is an open media. Why NATO meddle over other countries affairs? why is America all of the bother for Nato, a War Organization? Because NATO & US provocked Russia, I think it is rational for Russia to look for its allies.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More