WELCOME TO EURASIA: The 7 Countries You Need To Be Watching

From left, the presidents of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan

Photo: AP/ITAR-TASSS?Sergei Zhukov/Presidential Press Service

It’s likely you’ve never heard of half of the prospective members of Vladimir Putin’s plans for a “Eurasian Union”.However, if the plan goes ahead, you’ll need to get familiar with them quick.

A Eurasian Union (EuU) including most of the former U.S.S.R. would become a major counterweight to the EU (a Eurasian Union could control up to 33 per cent of the world’s proven natural gas reserves, according to Forbes).

Putin, who floated the idea in October of last year, at the time went to lengths to deny that the bloc would recreate the Soviet Union. However, Russia has already gotten many other former Soviet Union states to sign up for a free trade agreement, including Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine (which was initially set on joining the EU), Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan could follow suit.


Armenia came under Soviet influence in 1922. In 1936, it became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991, ending almost 1500 years of foreign rule, which began in the 4th century.


Why you should be watching Armenia


Modern Azerbaijan was established in 1828 through a treaty between Russia and Persia. In 1922, it was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic, and like Armenia, it became a union republic of the U.S.S.R. in 1936. Azerbaijan declared its independence from the U.S.S.R. on August 30, 1991.


Why you should be watching Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is making a killing in the energy sector.

With this money the country is planning to build the world's tallest tower at 3,645 feet (189 floors) -- taller than both the Burj Khalifa and the upcoming Kingdom Tower to be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The building should be complete by 2018-2019, and the company behind it is reportedly spending billions of dollars to build not only the tower, but also the man-made islands it will stand on.

Azerbaijan has not entered into an agreement with the Kremlin, but politicians think the idea has merit.


Kazakhstan is very ethnically diverse, with only a slight majority of Kazakhstanis being ethnic Kazakh. Other ethnic groups include Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, German, and Uyghur. The country was gradually colonized by tsarist Russia over the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In 1936, it became a Soviet republic. Kazakhstan declared independence on December 16, 1991.


Why you should be watching Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, one of the largest exporters of natural uranium in the world, is keen to expand civil nuclear ties with India, IBNLive reports.

It already exports large quantities of nuclear fuel to India, but Kazakhstan's ambassador to India declined to comment on the possibility of taking Iran's place as New Delhi's main oil supplier in the wake of Western sanctions on Tehran.

Kazakhstan was one of the first to join the customs union, then a free trade zone with Russia and Belarus.


Soviet power was initially established in the region in 1918, and in 1936, the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was established. The country got independence from the U.S.S.R. on August 31, 1991, after its President, Vice President, secretariat, and politburo resigned.


Why you should be watching Kyrgyzstan


While Russian rule here collapsed briefly after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Tajikistan once again came under Soviet control as an independent Soviet socialist republic in 1929. The Republic of Tajikistan gained its independence on September 9, 1991.


Why you should be watching Tajikistan

Tajikistan's Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to lease 6,000 hectares (14,826 acres) of land to China (one of the country's largest trade partners) for development. The move has not gone down well with some members of the country's political opposition, Asia Times reports.

Chinese officials have pledged $2 million of direct investment, new technology and technical assistance to revitalize the land, which has become non-arable through mismanagement. The Chinese will only be allowed to sell the crops produced in Tajik markets.

Tajikistan is part of the Common Economic Space (CES), despite initial scepticism.


By 1894, imperial Russia had taken control of Turkmenistan. The modern borders of the country were formed in 1924 when it became a Soviet republic. Turkmenistan declared its independence on October 27, 1991.


Why you should be watching Turkmenistan

The negotiations on the Trans-Caspian pipeline between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have been underway for a few years, although they have constantly been hitting roadblocks, Trend.az reports.

The design capacity of the 300-kilometer (186-mile) submarine pipeline would become part of the 'Southern Gas Corridor', designed to transport natural gas to central Europe from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, bypassing both Russia and Iran.

Earlier this week President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov won a new five-year term by capturing 97 per cent of the vote in an election observers called a sham.

Turkmenistan has so far rejected a new alliance with Russia, aligning itself with the U.S. instead.


The Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was founded in 1924. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.


Why you should be watching Uzbekistan

NATO and the U.S. have been leasing Uzbekistan's Termez air base for attacks on Afghanistan. As a result, some believe the West has turned somewhat of a blind eye to President Islam Karimov's dismal human rights record.

Post the troop withdrawal in 2014, Karimov could be made to answer for his actions, Uznews.net reports.

Uzbekistan has refused since the first mention of a union to have anything to do with it.

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