For centuries, small powers across Europe and Asia have never had a chance to chart their own destiny. That could be changing with help of Europe & the USA.
From the Arctic Circle bordered by the Nordic nations in Europe to the steppes of Central Asia, the peoples that live and work across the breadth of the world’s oldest trade routes have an opportunity to secure their own future, dictated not by the whims of great powers, but by a common bond, seeking shared prosperity, security derived from stability and peace, and respect for national sovereignty.
This future can, and in some respects is already being realized, through four interrelated projects: the European Three Seas Initiative, the reconstruction of Ukraine, an international effort for a “free and open” Black Sea, and the Middle Corridor, an expanse of energy production and distribution, value-added supply chains and transport stretching from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. Together, the enterprises comprising the Eurasia project will serve as the new backbone of prosperity linking East and West. Here is our thinking about why this could happen.
Why Now? The nature of great power competition has morphed in unanticipated ways over the last decade, but the result presents a unique opportunity for the nations of Eurasia to shape their own destiny.
For starters, much of the world has soured on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There are multiple reasons: from fear of “debt traps,” to Beijing over promising and under delivering, to the revulsion of China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy and irresponsible response to the COVID pandemic. The bottom line is that while there is widespread recognition of the value-added a modern Silk Road could bring to the modern world, the world is far less comfortable and confident today of China controlling it.
The consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine have also reset the geopolitics of the region. In some cases, Moscow has been recognized as a long-term threat to peace and stability and nations are hedging for a more secure future through collective security, such as Sweden and Finland seeking to join NATO. In other cases, regimes see new opportunities to chart a more independent course while Russia is weakened and distracted.