Vladimir Putin has recently outlined a far reaching plan to reshape and create a Eurasian Union of former Soviet states to compete with the European Union and China.
But what does this mean for oil-rich Kazakhstan, the sprawling country on Russia’s southern flank? Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formed a customs union last year and plan to merge into a single economic space in January 2012.
Mr Putin’s new Eurasian Union envisions an even deeper level of integration that is likely to shape Kremlin policy in the region if, he is elected to the presidency at elections next March as his popularity suggests is likely to happen.
“We are proposing a model of a powerful, supranational association capable of becoming one of the poles of the modern world …to play an effective bridge role between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region,” Putin told a Russian daily newspaper at a recent interview that discussed his new vision of a integrated Eurasia.