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2020 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

5. (Mis)interpreting the Eurasian Economic Union? Images of the EAEU in Russia and the West

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Abstract

Over the past few years, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has become a major topic for discussions about Russia’s attempts to resurge as a regional—and even a global—power. However, in the political and scholarly discourse about the EAEU, there exist multiple images of this organization. The goal of this chapter is to review the perceptions of the EAEU in Eurasia and beyond. It argues that both the Russian and international observers share an important common feature in their view of the EAEU: the focus on the geopolitical role of the organization and in particular its alleged ability to enhance Russia’s influence in the global arena. From this point of view, however, the research on the EAEU faces an important problem: the institutional design of this regional organization does not seem to be particularly suitable to promote the Russian hegemony as the subsequent discussion of this chapter will show.

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Footnotes
1
The existence of these barriers can be linked to both lack of resources and language knowledge. There is, however, a substantial tradition in Russia consciously insisting on separating Russian scholarly debate from the international one, either referring to the epistemological specifics of the Russian scholarly tradition (Yurevich 2015) or to the political tension in the relations with the West (Fenenko 2016).
 
2
Elibrary.ru indexes most of the Russian-language academic journals. See elibrary.ru.
 
3
On how problematic it is to try to fit the “real” EAEU into the Eurasianist rhetoric, see Laruelle (2015).
 
4
Or, at least, did it until recently. Libman (2018) argues that there is evidence of declining interest of the Russian leadership in Eurasian regionalism since 2015.
 
6
Obviously, one cannot make unambiguous claims about the direction of causality between the official discourse and the discourse of the epistemic communities.
 
7
Identifying the actual governance practices of the EAEU could, however, be a very difficult task. For instance, one should, as mentioned, hardly find any evidence of actorness of the EAEU bureaucracy vis-à-vis the nation states—the authoritarian nature of the post-Soviet countries and the bureaucratic traditions in these countries play an important role in this context. However, the actorness of the EAEU bureaucracies could manifest itself in relations with the individual national agencies, with the EAEU competing with them for attention and recognition from national leaders. This type of interaction would be very difficult to grasp empirically.
 
8
As mentioned, however, there is very little evidence that Russia is successful in this strategy.
 
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Metadata
Title
(Mis)interpreting the Eurasian Economic Union? Images of the EAEU in Russia and the West
Author
Alexander Libman
Copyright Year
2020
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-21832-4_5

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