Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Russia: Putin raises fears of return to Cold War days

Vladimir Putin has raised fears of a revival of the USSR after he revealed plans to create a so-called ‘Eurasian Union’ of former Soviet nations.

The Russian prime minister – who is all but certain to regain the presidency next year – wants the bloc to become ‘one of the poles of the modern world’, and a rival to the United States, the European Union and Asia.

In the past, Mr Putin has lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’. But he denies the Kremlin’s proposed new alliance is an attempt to rebuild Russia’s old communist empire.

Instead, Mr Putin – who has effectively led the country for more than a decade, first as president and now as prime minister – claims the union would merely act as ‘an efficient link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region’.

His assurances will do little to convince some ex-Soviet nations, however, many of whom are already suspicious of the Kremlin’s intentions. Alexander Dugin, a political scholar, said the ‘Eurasian Union’ would become one of Mr Putin’s chief policies as president. He added: ‘From the geopolitical viewpoint it represents an attempt to revive the USSR.’

But announcing the plans in a Russian newspaper, Mr Putin claimed: ‘There is no talk about rebuilding the USSR in one way or another. It would be naive to try to restore or copy something that belongs to the past, but a close integration based on new values and economic and political foundation is a demand of the present time.’

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