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Why do Authoritarian Leaders do Regionalism? Ontological Security and Eurasian Regional Cooperation


Collective ontological security refers to the psychological human need to be part of a stable collective identity. Populations expect leaders to help meet these ontological needs and support those that do. In the Eurasian region, Russian and Kazakh presidents have used regional cooperation efforts as, among other objectives, an elite-led strategy of ontological security building and reinforcement. This is especially important as national identities were contested and weak after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Focusing on ontological security presents a novel research perspective on Eurasian regionalism and offers a new (but complementary) explanation for both autocratic regional cooperation and conflict.
Keywords: Eurasian Economic Union, regionalism, ontological security, Russia, Kazakhstan