US senators pour scorn on Putin 'Eurasian Union'
Top Republican US senators predicted Tuesday that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would find few takers among former Soviet states for his call to join Moscow in a new "Eurasian Union."
"It's an old idea that the Russians have had dating back to the days of the tsars," said senior Republican Senator John McCain, who told reporters "no democracy is particularly attracted to Putin or his proposals."
"I may be wrong, and I don't want to be overly hard on our friend from Russia, but I don't see a lot of takers wanting to join his club," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
"You have some like-minded autocrats that may want to join, but I don't think there's going to be a rush to sign up," said Graham, who like McCain sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Putin, who is expected to seek a new term as president next year, outlined the proposal in an article in the Izvestia daily five months before polls that can return him to the Kremlin and put him at the helm of foreign policy decisions for at least six years.
Putin said his project would bring about an "historic breakthrough" for all post-Soviet states, which would break barriers for business dealings as well as people looking for a job.
"The idea is not to recreate the Soviet Union in some form," Putin writes, adding that the Eurasian Union would combine human and economic capital of its members to "ensure the stability of global development."
"Obviously he would like to recreate the Soviet Union," countered Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who predicted few former Moscow satellites would give up their "hard-won" freedom to join Moscow in the enterprise.
"The world is better off when people get to choose their own governments and it's not a Putin-style kleptocracy," said Kirk.
Russia has pursued for several years closer economic cooperation with ex-Soviet partners, forming a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2009 and later developing it into what it calls a unified economic zone.
"I think it's for all practical purposes a non-starter and a bad idea," said Republican Senator Roger Wicker, who called the plan "intended for domestic Russian consumption."
© 2011 AFP