Russia’s ‘Greater Eurasia’ plan gets Brexit boost

MOSCOW–The Kremlin has been careful to dismiss claims that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union came as a development largely beneficial for Russia. Yet despite the official denials, the upcoming European disorder sparked by the UK leaving the EU appears to come as a boost to Russia’s plans of increased Eurasian integration.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected allegations by British Prime Minister David Cameron that Russia would welcome Brexit. “The British people have decided to leave the European Union. We never interfered in this process,” Putin said on June 24.

Putin made these remarks on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23-24 finalized entry of India and Pakistan into the organization that currently includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The SCO summit confirmed the grouping’s long-term vision by approving its strategic development blueprint through 2025.

Blaming the EU

And yet despite claims of non-interference, the Kremlin still sounded critical of European Union affairs. Putin compared the European Parliament with the Supreme Council of the former Soviet Union, adding there was too much of what he described “high concentration of power” in the EU.

Moscow also apparently believes that the EU was to blame for the current turmoil caused by the Brexit shock. Putin noted that the British people voted to leave because “no one wants to support weak economies,” and because people had legitimate security concerns in a reference to the EU’s ongoing migrant crisis.

Shrinking British lion

Britain used to be one of the strongest critics of Russia’s policies among EU member states. With Brexit and Britain’s diminishing influence on the global stage, Russia has fewer reasons to worry about British criticism.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, the Kremlin also has more cause to be critical of the European Union’s policies. Among other things, it can argue that an Eurasian integration grouping is more viable than the EU.

Moscow already outlined a bold vision for such a new global integration grouping earlier this month. Putin has announced that the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) can become part of a larger integration entity, a “Greater Eurasia” to include China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and the former Soviet states in the region.

Full article: Russia’s ‘Greater Eurasia’ plan gets Brexit boost (Asia Times)

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