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Russia's Eurasian Union: a far-reaching attempt at economic integration weakened by its political use

Eurasian_union_report_2014Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will sign today an Association Agreement tying them to the EU. This means that they will not be joining the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), as did Belarus and Armenia and as Moscow had hoped. Moscow’s coercive tactics to encourage EEU accession are forcing the countries of the region to make a choice between Russia and the EU.

A new report published today (Friday 27 June) by LSE IDEAS, The Geopolitics of Eurasian Economic Integration, finds that the Ukraine crisis has accelerated the regional competition between Russia and the European Union (EU) and has changed its nature.

“The EEU is based on modern customs legislation and an elaborate set of institutions. At the same time, it is weakened by contradictions: Moscow is attempting to turn it into a foreign policy tool at the expense of economic rationalisation. This means that the countries standing between Russia and the EU are forced to face a choice that can be internally divisive for them,” says Dr David Cadier, Editor of the report and a Teaching Fellow at LSE IDEAS.

The EEU, which will come into being in 2015, aims to create a single economic market between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Through this framework, Russia aims to increase its regional influence by encouraging the harmonisation of market and regulatory norms. In a way, it is an attempt to counter the influence of the EU by replicating some of its instruments. Russia hopes that other countries of the post-Soviet space will join.

The report examines the motivations and pressures on each Eurasian state over which power to follow, the EU or Russia. It analyses the internal factors that mediate and complicate this choice and cites divisive domestic politics, separatism, structural dependencies and the economic and political calculations of local actors as the key elements in these countries’ choices.

See the full report here.

For expert comments or more information on the report contact:

Dr David Cadier, Editor, LSE IDEAS, 020 7955 6985 or d.a.cadier@lse.ac.uk