This article deals with the political and economic implications of sanctions against Russia for the functioning of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which became operational in 2015.Assuming that the political conduct of EAEU states is based on political pragmatism, the author concludes that in spite of the fact that they provide official support to Eurasian integration, they also have an interest in acceding to alternative projects that strengthen their sovereignty. Therefore, the major challenge to the Union derives primarily from the political sphere since the number of alternatives to Eurasian integration is gradually increasing, disrupting relations between members and Russia.In this respect, the correlation between western sanctions and the EAEU’s economic growth rate is of great importance. The principal purpose of sanctions is to limit a country’s ability to pursue its independent and active policy, including the development of foreign economic projects. Consequently, anti-Russian sanctions must have influenced the EAEU and its key members. In 2016, Russia demonstrated a decrease in the gross domestic product (GDP) which had an even greater negative impact on Belarus and Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, they have not only managed to regain lost ground on economic performance, but also to achieve some growth in GDP. Such dynamics confirm the author’s hypothesis that the members of the EAEU have room for maneuver if some external player influences their political and economic development.However, the EAEU’s internal capacities for dynamic development should not be overestimated. The Union faces problems such as weak aggregate GDP in comparison with the leading world economies, low GDP growth rates in the member states, and a relatively low rate of EAEU population growth. In this context, the Union definitely needs to expand its economic influence in the global arena. Although EAEU states might have divergent interests, the author concludes that a pragmatic assessment of the benefits from participation in the Eurasian integration project, including the preservation of their identity and greater room for maneuver in their foreign trade and economic activities, remains the principal factor maintaining the integrity of the Union.
Keywords: Sanctions; sanctions policy; unilateral restrictive measures; Eurasian Economic Union; Eurasian integration; Russia; Belarus; Kazakhstan; Armenia; Kyrgyzstan
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