Political Integration in Eurasia
The year of 1991 bares the mark of many great accomplishments in history with the most notable being the demise of the Soviet Union of which had begun falling a few years prior. Although this was a great achievement for the Unites States and the European Union (EU) there was little time to celebrate as a new challenge arrived. This challenge was to help the area of the world known as Eurasia. There were now fourteen countries (fifteen if you include Estonia) who were newly sovereign nation. The task at hand for the Western world was to prevent the former Soviet Republics from falling back into authoritarian or totalitarian ways. However, Russia was presented with an even larger challenge, trying to form a new government and new economy after 70 years of everything being state run (Liefert). The outcome of their decisions and how they integrate politically with not only their newly sovereign neighbors but the western world as well, would ultimately depict there future.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia made major changes in the government with an attempt at democracy and eventually settling with a centralized semi-authoritarian state and also a major change in their economy. It was realized that the only way to be successful was to follow the western way. So they began to integrate globally and switched from a Command Economy to a Market Economy. The switch from government regulated prices to a privatized system of course crashed the system and within five years Russia’s GDP dropped by forty percent. This drop was worse than the one that the United States experienced during the Great Depression (Poland). This plan was labeled as “Shock Treatment” and resulted in Russian oligarchs gaining a lot of their power (Poland). Russia also had decided to stop its expansion of its livestock programs that had been in effect since the 1970’s and ended up importing nearly one third of all its meat. This did however have a positive outcome. With an over abundant amount of grain, Russia became one of the major grain exporters in the world (Liefert). Unfortunately this was not enough to keep them above water and in 1998 went bankrupt with the economy crashing. Pundits began debating whether democracy and more importantly a free market could ever work or flourish in a country of which had worshiped a czar for so long (McFaul). Things began to turn around once current president Vladimir Putin took office with a sort of authoritarian approach, something that a country like Russia may need. The economy began to rise drastically after gaining control of critical resources such as gas, oil, and metals. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has averaged an annual growth of seven percent and the average salary rose from $650 to $2000 between the years of 2000 and 2010 (ALTHISTORY). The country has enjoyed a booming economy for over ten years. As of 2010 Russia’s GDP is roughly 2.22 trillion which ranks as the seventh best in the world. They are also ranked 52nd on the Gini Index rankings with it being at 42.2, which ranks better than the United States and is close to China (CIA). In large part recent success of the Russian economy has been due to the amount of oil, gas, and metal it continues to export. In fact they make up about eighty percent of the country’s exports (Poland). As of 2009 Russia has been the world’s leader in exporting gas and is second in exportation of oil. In light of a recent deal that was struck between Russia and Belarus, Russia’s success should continue to succeed for the time being. In November of 2011 Belarus sold its gas pipe line to Russian gas company, Gazprom, in exchange for discounted gas. This deal was sort of a surprise to the world as Belarus President or often referred to as Dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko would be losing a lot of power of which he deeply craves. The next country in line that Russia will attempt to lure into a similar deal will be Ukraine,...
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