The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was established at the beginning of 2015. The founding member states were Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, joined by Armenia on January 2 and Kyrgyzstan in August 2015. The EAEU has not accepted any new countries as full member states since then, but the Union is open to the possibility of cooperating with countries all around the world, not just countries in Eurasia, and it has already significantly extended the reach of its economic partnerships further afield: in 2016, a free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam came into force, then a temporary FTA was signed with Iran IN 2018, as well as an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China and a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuba. Moldova was also granted the status of an EAEU observer state in 2018. The possibility of entering into various different agreements with Egypt, India, Mongolia, Thailand, Serbia and Singapore is being considered.
The EAEU is now only a few steps away from signing an FTA with Serbia in particular, a Balkan state in Southeastern Europe and official candidate for EU membership. This is interesting, because given the current global political landscape, Serbia’s interest in building closer relations with Russia has been a source of irritation for the EU leadership and Washington, and Western media outlets have speculated that an FTA with the EAEU could jeopardize Serbia’s chances of joining the EU. Nevertheless, Serbia continues to pursue closer relations with both the EAEU and Russia.
It is worth bearing in mind that Russia and Serbia have already signed a separate FTA. The two countries share a long history of friendly relations, a common Slavic and Orthodox culture and the proximity of similar political views. Russia and Serbia are also united by their cooperation on defense. Gas plays another significant role in relations between Russia and Serbia, which Russia has been selling to Serbia at a reduced price for many years. There are plans to have the “TurkStream” natural gas pipeline extended to Serbia via Bulgaria in the near future, which will run along the bottom of the Black Sea from Russia’s Krasnodar Region to Turkey. The gas pipeline will continue on past Serbia to Hungary. This will allow Serbia, which is already a major consumer of Russian gas,