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Friday, December 5, 2014

President Putin's address to Parliament

President Putin's power was evident when he walked into the room to thunderous applause for his state of the union address to parliament.

He told the Russian people to get ready for hard times because the west is seeking to destroy Russia and punish them for its growing strength.  And the sad thing is that they believed every word.

He said that western sanctions over Ukraine would only help the country to develop its own economy and would have been imposed even without the crisis in Ukraine.  "I am certain that if all this did not take place, they would come up with another reason to contain Russia's growing capabilities - whenever anyone thinks that Russia has become strong, they resort to this instrument."

But on the other hand, he promised to keep Russia open to the world. "We will never pursue the path of self-isolation, xenophobia, suspicion and search for enemies.  All this is a manifestation of weakness, while we are strong and self-confident.

It's now pretty clear that Putin won't allow Ukraine to become part of the EU.  He has other plans.

President Putin wants Ukraine to integrate economically with Russia to become part of a grand Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) - a Russian-led economic and political union of former Soviet states which will eventually become a powerful bloc on the world stage, powerful enough to take on the EU.

Some analysts argue that Russia want footholds in countries like Ukraine and Armenia, not to control them, but to curtail western influence.

So what is the Eurasian Union?

A treaty was signed on 29 May 2014 between the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia and another treaty to enlarge the EEU to Armenia was signed on 9 October 2014.  The republic of Kyrgyzstan will also join the union by the end of 2014.

It will create a market of 171 million people and gross domestic product of 3 trillion American dollars and will officially go into effect on 1 January 2015.

I think western governments would be foolish to pursue the Ukrainian standoff any further, if President Putin wants it back, he can have it, it's not worth fighting a war over.