Next steps in the merger of Eurasian Economic Union and Belt and Road Initiative
It is likely that among the 40 projects that Sargsyan mentions are the Moscow-Kazan high speed railroad and the Western Europe-Western China expressway that would connect Lianyungang with St. Petersburg. Additionally, there are several hydropower projects in the Russian Far East that will be financed by Chinese investment (Central Asia Institute for Strategic Studies, July 15). The list also likely includes the agreement between the Russia Direct Investment Fund and the China Development Bank to create a new $10 billion cooperation fund for cross border projects, as well as the $850 million loan that the China Development Bank gave to the Russian VEB bank for the construction of an innovation fund (Gazetta.ru, May 29). It would not be surprising, however, if the majority of these projects were in Kazakhstan rather than in Russia, as Astana has worked hard to incorporate its “Nurly Zhul” infrastructure initiative with BRI. On the other hand, there has been a noticeable rise of anti-Chinese sentiments in Kazakhstan that may preclude some of these projects from reaching fruition (Eurasia Daily Monitor, January 8). It also remains unclear what the “legal framework” that Sargsyan alluded to actually entails, although the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian think tank that has published papers on Russia’s Asia policy, has suggested it could encompass sectoral and customs cooperation, sanitary measures, technical barriers, intellectual property protection, and greater transparency in trade remedy actions (Valdai Discussion Club, September 8).

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