NGRN, together with the analytical center “A+ Analytics”, with the support of the information and analytical portal Platon Asia and analytical magazine “Exclusive” on June 10, 2021, organized a round table with the participation of experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Uzbekistan, during which the challenges and risks for the Eurasian integration partner countries in connection with Russia’s attempts to use the EAEU to solve its geopolitical tasks were discussed.
The need for discussion was prompted by the statement by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that the EAEU is working on a consolidated response to Western sanctions. The Russian official noted that the issue of response measures to unfriendly sanctions actions of third countries against (countries) of the EAEU was put on the agenda.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan promptly reacted, stating that Kazakhstan did not conduct any negotiations on “consolidated measures” of the EAEU countries in response to sanctions from other states and opposed the endowment of the Eurasian integration bodies with unusual functions and against the politicization of the association.
In this regard, the following questions were proposed for discussion:
- What are the risks for partner countries when trying to drag the EAEU into a sanctions war with the West;
- What is the optimal foreign policy strategy for the Union countries which want to develop pragmatic relations with all members of the international community;
- What “red” lines can be drawn for cooperation within the EAEU;
- How do observer countries, in particular Uzbekistan, assess the activities of the EAEU.
- The EAEU is used by Russia to solve its geopolitical tasks, and artificial bureaucratic barriers prevent the full entry of goods from partner countries to the Russian market. At the same time, Russian business has filled the markets of partner countries, Russian exports continue to grow, while exports of partner countries are declining. In this regard, the economic benefits from the EAEU for the partner countries are very insignificant.
- The EAEU does not bring additional meaning in the trade relations of the countries, all processes operate in bilateral formats, since multilateral platforms are ineffective in solving existing problems.
- Within the framework of the EAEU, the practice of Moscow’s dominance in the formation and adoption of decisions continues, there is no agreement with partner countries. Moscow believes that partners will by default agree with any decisions of the Kremlin. This trend poses a threat to the national security and economic independence of the partner countries.
- Russia is trying to compensate for the lack of efforts to counter the sanctions at the expense of other countries. This also leads to economic losses and political risks for partner countries.
- The possible merger of Russia and Belarus, the economic absorption of Armenia by Russian business, pose a threat to other EAEU countries, since this trend will dramatically change the balance of power in the Union.
- Recent events in the CA region have raised the question of how much Kyrgyzstan can count on a full-fledged alliance with Moscow. In some political circles, the issue of the expediency of the presence of Russian integration structures in Kyrgyzstan is being discussed. Despite the fact that the country’s political leadership at all venues repeats the theses about strategic partnership with the Russian Federation, the critical attitude towards the EAEU, CSTO, Russia is growing.
- Attempts by Russia to politicize the EAEU are causing rejection in Uzbekistan, and will probably hold back Tashkent from joining the Union.
- To oppose the attempts of the Russian Federation to make decisions in the EAEU without coordination with partner countries, as well as by joint efforts to oppose Moscow’s actions to politicize the union.
- To study more carefully all the initiatives that are put forward by the Russian side in the EAEU for threats to national interests. And if detected – to torpedo their adoption. Minimize the obligations of Kazakhstan in the EAEU, which will protect the market of the Republic of Kazakhstan from the expansion of Russian goods.
- To form internal mechanisms that will limit Russia’s attempts to establish control over the strategic assets of partner countries.
- Strengthen the information and analytical support of the EAEU, in order to form a discourse with an objective attitude towards the Union at the level of civil society and the expert environment. Create their own public opinion, explain the situation as opposed to Russian propaganda. To intensify the discussion of the existing problems of the EAEU instead of speculations about the mythical ideal future of the EAEU.
- To create a single platform at the level of expert communities of the post-Soviet countries, in order to counter the propaganda of the Russian Federation. This will help offset and counter Russia’s informational influence.
- Formulate clear statements of the Foreign Ministries of partner countries in the event of unfriendly rhetoric of the Russian side regarding “gifts of the Russian people”, “consolidated response of the EAEU”, etc.
- To activate the idea of regional integration in the Central Asia, which will contribute to the strengthening of the subjectivity of the countries of the region.
- To intensify the search for new partners who can become an alternative to Russia in the post-Soviet space. Turkey can be considered as a promising ally, which is pursuing a bold policy in the region and can balance the Kremlin’s foreign policy towards the post-Soviet space.
- Consider the risks and threats for partner countries in case of intensified economic expansion of Russia (absorption of Belarus, efforts to establish control over the strategic assets of the member states, etc.), as well as develop a mechanism for leaving the EAEU.
Based on the results of the round table, a comprehensive report will be published soon.