(Global Post) When Russian President Vladimir Putin joined his counterparts from Kazakhstan and Belarus on stage last month to sign an agreement for a new union between their countries, their awkward-looking smiles betrayed many unknowns about exactly what they were about to do.
After absorbing Crimea and thumbing his nose at the West over his moves to destabilize the rest of Ukraine, Putin was taking his geopolitical power play to a new level by launching a regional economic bloc aimed at rivaling the European Union.
His plan for the Eurasian Union is the Kremlin’s most ambitious post-Soviet integration project yet. Critics claim it’s based on Putin’s neo-imperial fantasy of rebuilding the Soviet Union.
But experts seriously question whether it will be anything more than a toothless club of autocracies, especially in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine.
“Russia has invested enough to make sure the project would go on, and it will go on,” says Arkady Moshes, a Russian foreign policy expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. “But it’s also clear that the returns will be diminished in both economic and political terms.” […]