Belarus’ importance as an independent actor in Eastern Europe is growing – a fact that is underlined by Swiss Foreign Minister Cassis’ attendance of the opening of the Swiss embassy in Minsk and meeting with Belarusian President Lukashenko on 13 February 2020. This graphic illustrates four different integration projects, of which Belarus is a member. For more on Belarus’ foreign policies and strategies, read Benno Zogg’s addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series ‘Belarus between East and West: The Art of the Deal‘.
This week’s graphic maps the external relations of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). This includes states that have an observer status in the organization, who are members of the Eurasian Bank of Development, have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EAEU, and more. For an analysis of the EAEU’s role in Russia’s Eurasian strategy, read Jeronim Perović’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2019 here.
Demands for perfect security by one nation, without regard for others, heighten anxiety and prompt unnecessary weapons buildup
The G20 summit in Hamburg, the Russian-Chinese presidential meeting, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization leadership summit underline new concerns driving such public gatherings of world leaders. Among the major obstacles to great power cooperation that preoccupy leaders is how they perceive one another as selfishly advancing their individual national security heedless of others’ concerns.
At the G20 summit, some delegates criticized the US policy of putting American economic interests first above the need for global cooperation to limit climate change or to sustain international free trade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly said that Europeans would have to assume the mantle of climate change leadership from what she depicts as a security-selfish US.
This security dilemma impeding great power cooperation is also evident in how the presidents of China and Russia approached North Korea’s latest missile tests, an action underpinned by Pyongyang’s own quest for absolute security from US military threats by acquiring a nuclear deterrent. At their July 4 presidential summit in Moscow, China and Russia urged Pyongyang to suspend missile testing in return for a US–South Korean freeze on major military activities, which the US rejected as a Chinese-Russian attempt to exploit the North Korean threat to weaken the US–South Korean alliance.
There is a good chance that economic jockeying between China and Russia in Central Asia will intensify in the coming months. For Russia, Chinese economic expansion could put a crimp in President Vladimir Putin’s grand plan for the Eurasian Economic Union.
Putin has turned to China in recent months, counting on Beijing to pick up a good portion of the trade slack created by the rapid deterioration of economic and political relations between Russia and the West. Beijing for the most part has obliged Putin, especially when it comes to energy imports. But the simmering economic rivalry in Central Asia could create a quandary for bilateral relations.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis is having a profoundly unsettling effect on authoritarian-minded governments in Central Asia. On the one hand, they are keen to keep the forces unleashed by the Euromaidan movement at bay; on the other, they appear unnerved by the Kremlin’s power play.
State-controlled media outlets in Central Asian states are reticent when it comes to covering developments in Kyiv, Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. The parallels between the ousted and allegedly corrupt president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and leading members of Central Asian elites are obvious to many in the region, so it’s not surprising that the Euromaidan Revolution has received little play in Central Asia’s press.