Good news that the western, democratic, and globalized countries of the European Union are building an “eastern partnership” to help states formerly dominated by Moscow to keep their independence and, as important, their globalizing trajectory.
Fears of Russia weighed heavily on the minds of those who went to Prague this week to launch the “eastern partnership”, a project meant to improve economic and political relations between the European Union and six former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. This low-budget project has no military component and may not make much of a difference, says Fyodor Lukyanov, a Russian foreign-policy pundit. Still, Russia sees the EU as a competitor in its sphere of influence and reacts fiercely to any interference, such as Belarus being told that recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia would hurt its prospects with the EU. That the summit was followed by a conference on Nabucco, a gas pipeline meant to bypass Russia in the south, was just another irritation.
Also good that Belarus is included in that list. When I last talked about the Eastern Partnership, Belarus was not involved. Belarus was once a friend of Russia, until Putin began destroying the soft power he inherited from Yeltsin.
Russia is essentially a white version of Nigeria, without Nigeria’s accomplishments of a peaceful foreign policy or an English-speaking elite. Aside from client regimes created through military invasion, no country or statelet has any desire to become closer to Russia.