Vladmir Putin will transfer from the Prime Minister’s seat to the President’s in 2012 after current Russian President Medvedev’s term is over. Putin has often been quoted expressing his admiration and nostalgia for Russia’s past, and this has found expression in foreign policy overtures to form both bilateral unions, such as that proposed between Russia and Belarus, but also in a supranational entity akin to the Soviet Union. Such a Eurasian Union would replace the Soviet Union in scope. Writing for Izvestia, Putin argues for the creation of a supranational entity that would act as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Global Post highlights a well known roadblock to renewed Russian superpower status: demographics. First, Russia’s birthrate is much too low to support its continental ambitions. Another hobbling factor is the high mortality rate among Russian males. The Global Post cites the Soviet command economy’s ability to compel people to live in places where they would not otherwise live through state inducements. One such region is the area around Russia’s border with China. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic Russians moved elsewhere for better economic opportunities. The Global Post offers grim population projections to back up its assertion about the difficulties facing Russia on its road to renewed super power status: in 1991, the population of Russia was 150 million, and it is project to be 109 million by 2050. The Global Post speculates that Putin will utilize the growing populations of the former Soviet republics in central Asia as an engine to drive Russian economic growth.
Reasons for taking Putin’s dreams of a Eurasian Union seriously are his quick moves to bring states like the Ukraine into the Russian sphere with the signing of a free trade agreement between Russia and the former Soviet republics. Putin declared, “Only in around 2015 may we approach the realization of the idea of creation of Eurasian Union if we work as energetically as we have been…This is the matter of the future.” The movement of the Ukraine into the Soviet sphere is cited by the Global Post as evidence of the “collapse of western alternatives” and as the rise of Russia’s economy through an abundance of natural resources. The Belarus-Russia-Kazakhstan Customs Union will be the starting point for the common market and the drive on the part of the former Soviet republics to join with Russia in such a union is because of the unlikelihood of their joining an organization like the European Union and the rising importance of China in economic affairs.