On May 29, the presidents of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan finally signed an agreement to create the Eurasian Union (the proper name is the Eurasian Economic Union), a massive conglomerate of post-Soviet countries. There may be only three members right now, but there are other countries that plan on joining.
Predictably, the Western media has savaged the Union already, even though it’s too early to tell if it’s a bad idea or not. From the article I linked to above:
“Three weak economies getting together and integrating: How much good can come out of it?” said Nargis Kassenova, the director of the Central Asian Studies Center at Kimep University in Almaty, who is part of a small but vocal opposition to the union in Kazakhstan. “Now, it is even worse because one is under sanctions and drifting away from the West,” Ms. Kassenova added, referring to Western economic sanctions against Russia.
Although the presidents of Armenia and Kyrgyzstan attended the signing ceremony and expressed an interest in joining, the missing guest at the party was Ukraine. That country’s previous government in Kiev tacked back and forth on whether it would join the European Union or the new Eurasian group, eventually choosing Mr. Putin’s offer and igniting a public uprising that ended up bringing down the president in February.
Bloomberg Businessweek also joined in the bashing:
Alas for Putin, the new bloc comes nowhere near the big leagues. Even after Armenia and Kyrgyzstan enter, its total gross domestic product—about $2.6 trillion—will be less than one-fifth that of the European Union or the U.S. and less than one-third of China’s. Russia will account for more than 80 percent of the bloc’s GDP and a similar share of its roughly 178 million population. Creation of the union “won’t really register on the radar of the global economy,” says Nicu Popescu, an analyst at the EU’s Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
Personally, I think those EU analysts should worry more about the dismal state of the European Union than another economic union, but I digress.
I want to share this map from Business Insider (yes, I know it’s old, but I’ve kept forgetting to blog about it). It shows the sheer size of the Eurasian Union:
The three countries that signed the agreement are in red. Prospective members are in pink (Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan). Dark blue and light blue are current and prospective European Union members, respectively. Green are countries that could be either in the the European Union or the Eurasian Union: Ukraine and Georgia.
Considering that the proposed Eurasian Union has territory incredibly rich in natural resources, I do not think we should discount it as a formidable power.