UKRAINE. A further escalation of the Ukrainian crisis may cause dreadful tectonic shifts both at regional and global level politics. Russia’s reaction to the Ukrainian Euromaidan revolution defies the basic principles of modern world politics and international relations. Moreover, the political and economic turbulences with its consequences endanger and challenge Russia’s own project, namely further Eurasian integration. The chances of success of the existing union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus with other states interested in joining it are now becoming more and more elusive.

Whatever the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it is undeniable that the Eurasian integration project has lost Ukraine, which until recently was associated to the union with an observer status. Notwithstanding, before it was also doubtful whether Ukraine would join Eurasian (Customs) Union as a full-blown member.

Russia even hints on the prospect of the Eurasian Economic Union, a project based on new Russian values with political and economic foundations quite opposed to those of the former Soviet Union. However, neither advocacy efforts, nor reduced prices for energy supplies or the numerous threats with which Moscow endeavored to “persuade” Kiev to become member in its integration project resulted favorably for Russia.

Even acknowledging the existence of pro-Western and pro-Eastern forces, the consensus has always existed among Ukrainian elites that there was the need to preserve national sovereignty. Therefore, any integration with the eastern neighbor has been perceived as a threat to Ukraine’s independence, in contrast to the envisioned membership of the EU.

At the same time, the possibility of large-scale arrival of Russian capital in Ukraine never aroused enthusiasm among Ukrainian tycoons who perceive the Russian moguls and their influence as a big threat to their interests. And pro-Russian sentiment is declining overall in Ukrainian society over the last decade as shown in opinion polls.

Up to the recent overthrow of the government, Ukrainian authorities tried to balance between Russia and the European Union and the Kremlin could conceit itself with an illusionary idea regarding the membership of Ukraine in Eurasian Union. However, now these hopes are lost. One last drop made the cup over – the aggressive behavior of Russia, which might have unified the majority of Ukrainians, creating such an effect that it will take long time (decades) before Russia again will be perceived as ally and potential partner.

The loss of Ukraine, which these days signed an association agreement with EU, minimizes chances of the entire Eurasian project to become one of the global centers of power. For Russia specifically, the failure to attract Ukraine into its own “orbit” gives the Russian-led project a very strong Asian face. This could be so particularly, that instead of the state on the European continent, with fertile agricultural land and industrial base, Russia will attempt to search new members in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Moreover, without Ukraine, Russia’s ambitions to become a Eurasian “empire”, a pole of Orthodox civilization that includes European and Asian parts of the continent, are practically air-built.

The undisguised violation of international law by Russia in the Crimea will also have negative consequences for the relationship between members of the Eurasian Union. This union, which is focused on economic pragmatism, without emphasis on democracy and human rights, serves, as a platform for purely economic integration. The Kremlin’s trampling of international law might have raised “caution” among (potential) partners of the Union. Observing the Crimea annexation by Russia, both the Belarusian and Kazakh authorities may place in doubt talking of the equal status of members of the Eurasian Union. Economic integration may result in an open invitation to further incursion by Russia and the setting up of a structure with supranational powers seems out of question.

In this respect, Russia needs strong assets to be attractive in order to advance the integration project. However, it seems to lack such resources as technology or attractive soft power or there is a lack of ability to use them effectively. The military power, in turn, is clearly not conducive to “healthy” integration processes.

Therefore, Russia’s “win at Crimea” may result in unexpected losses. Further integration with post-soviet states depends not on the military and aggressive image of power and force. On the contrary, high quality of life, economic prosperity, stable political situation, democracy and rule of law could be far more efficient to make Russia a magnet in the integration processes.