STRATFOR analyst Eugene Chausovsky examines Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's statements about a new organization for the states on its periphery.
Editor’s Note:Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
On the sidelines of a customs union meeting between Prime Ministers of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a reference to the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which he said would start to take place in 2013. With Putin offering little elaboration on what this Eurasian Economic Union would entail, this gives STRATFOR the opportunity to look at what this union could mean for the grouping in the next few years. As Russia has been resurging into its former Soviet periphery, the customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan is a formal and legal mechanism in which Russia expands its influence into these countries. Since its creation in January 2010, the customs union has gone through several stages and is ultimately set to become the common economic space by January 2012. Up until now, the common economic space was the ultimate goal of the customs union and would eliminate internal barriers between the three countries. But now, with the announcement of the Eurasian Economic Union, this could change the equation. While little official details have been offered about the Eurasian Economic Union, STRATFOR has been following trends that could give insight into what this union would entail. First, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have already expressed their interest in joining the economic grouping. Meanwhile, countries with Ukraine are in the process of establishing formal trade relationships with the grouping which could be solidified via this Eurasian Economic Union. But despite its name, the Eurasian Economic Union could be about more than just the economic sphere. While the customs union began with the integration of tariff systems of the countries and an elimination of internal customs barriers, joint security has also been a stated goal of union. Therefore, the formal integration of these countries in the economic sphere could be replicated in the security sphere — indeed, Putin even hinted as much when he said that the development of cooperation in the defense industry between the members is not just possible but necessary. While the official details of the Eurasian Economic Union have yet to be revealed and its formation is far from a guarantee, such a development, if it were to occur, would give Russia control in two key areas. This would be in the economic realm and the security realm, without Russia having the burdensome political responsibilities that it had during the Soviet era.