The Eurasian Economic Union: the geopolitics of authoritarian cooperation

Sean Roberts

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Understanding cooperation among authoritarian regimes remains a puzzle for researchers; in particular, those working in post-Soviet Eurasia. Research suggests that autocrats are becoming increasingly coordinated in their efforts to thwart democracy, with authoritarian-led regional organizations offering an effective vehicle to extend autocrat time horizons. In contrast, older studies, including insights from failed regional integration among former Soviet states, suggest that the absence of democracy limits cooperation, although in both cases there is a lack of detail on the mechanisms enabling or constraining relations between autocrats. This article addresses this shortcoming by developing a theoretical framework based around autocrat survivability or “regime security” and applying it to the important case of the newly formed Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), drawing on original interview data with experts and stake-holders in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The argument forwarded in this article is that concerns over regime security create antagonistic cooperation drivers. In the case of the EAEU, regime security provides a strong explanation for the inability of member states to coordinate policy. The implication is that future studies should pay close attention to the way the material and ideational aspects of authoritarian rule combine to drive, but also limit relations between autocrats.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEurasian Geography and Economics
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2017


  • Eurasian
  • cooperations
  • authoritarianism
  • Russia
  • security


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