With World Politics Review, I parsed the potential merger of Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt:
After nearly a year of attempting to foist the EEU upon its neighbors, the Kremlin is finally waking to the futility of its efforts. But as much as China has proved eager to prop up a weakening Russia through new gas deals, the relationship is a “one-sided love affair,” as the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Alexander Gabuev recently noted. Beijing, for its part, has few qualms about subsuming the barely functioning EEU within its bigger plans for Central Asia. Just as China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank overshadowed the BRICS’ New Development Bank, which Russia had heavily touted, so, too, has the Silk Road Economic Belt barged over Putin’s plans for post-Soviet consolidation.
Instead of Putin’s original vision of being Russia’s rejoinder to the European Union and a way back to great power status for Moscow, the Eurasian Economic Union will hitch its fate to China’s own grand plans in Central Asia. Putin has gone with the best option left but glossed over the unequal Sino-Russian relationship the move represents. And in the end, the merger may well prove to be the EEU’s death knell—the latest instance of Chinese pocket-book diplomacy trumping Russian revanchism.