The nations inhabiting the former Soviet space have to ask themselves whether the benefits of joining a Russian-dominated common area will outweigh the costs in terms of lost market flexibility outside the union and the loss of foreign policy discretion.
In the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union and the subsequent 1993 Velvet Divorce, the Slovaks have had the tougher hand to play. They are now trying out an economic strategy that may well retard growth and frighten off foreign investors.
The Czech Republic is one of the success stories of the former Eastern Bloc. It has navigated the transition toward capitalism and very clearly sees its destiny with the nations of the European Union rather than with its still dangerous former master state, Russia.
There are some inspiring stories among the former republics and satellite states of the Soviet Union. The same, regrettably, cannot be said for the Uzbeks.
Protests and negative attention from the EU and NGO’s may be too late to protect the interests of the Belarusian people. Lukashenko may manage to keep power just long enough to leave the people of Belarus more fully dependent on Mother Russia than any of the other former republics.
Azerbaijan has chosen to be a pro-Western and pro-American sovereignty. Like so many of the countries formerly under the control of the totalitarian Russian state, it has opted to look West rather than to join some Eurasian pact of the sort Vladimir Putin envisions.
Because of Poland’s unique history as perhaps the single modern nation most oppressed by outsiders, victory in the Cold War, often thought of as an American story, can be, with justice, thought of as a great vindication of Polish perseverance.