E Russia And Korea In Free-Trade Talks: Oceania, Meet Eurasia And Eastasia

A couple of years ago I looked at Russia's potential expansion plans.(1)

Last year she joined with four other countries to form a new trading bloc called the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).(2) It began five years earlier with a customs union between Russia, Belarus and Kazahstan and now also includes Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.Their combined PPP-adjusted GDP is the equivalent of over 4 trillion dollars - a fifth that of the EU's, but nothing to sneeze at and already 50% more than the UK's.

Now, Russia is talking to South Korea about a free trade deal. (3)

Push leads to shove. The EU upset the apple cart in Ukraine, partly from enlargement ambitions and partly (one suspects) at the urging of the US. Now we have a divided Ukraine, a Russian-annexed Crimea and a Black Sea where (under the cover of the 2014 Sochi Olympics) Russia has developed useful infrastructure - those ploughshares can easily be beaten back into swords.

America's geopolitics seems almost designedly dangerous. While the US's hugely expensive military machine has been making a waste of the Middle East - and driving millions of refugees (and carpetbaggers from Africa and Pakistan)  towards a disorganised EU led by Angela Merkel (whose sanity I begin to doubt), China is spending its money more carefully in the Pacific, where a bit of help among little nations here and there wins friends over a vast and strategically vital area.(4) Even Kiribati might come back on board for the PRC, as it was pre-2003.(5)

It's hardly surprising that Russia and China should continue to forge links, but unless Washington's chess-players find a way to curb the neo-conservatives, the process could be a bit like what led to 1914. Hubris, boys.

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