Kremlin signs economic union treaty with former Soviet states

Putin hopes move will challenge US, EU and China

This document brings our countries to a new stage of integration, says Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Photograph:  Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

This document brings our countries to a new stage of integration, says Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

 

Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a treaty with Kazakhstan and Belarus yesterday creating a vast trading bloc which he hopes will challenge the economic might of the United States, the European Union and China.

Mr Putin denies the forging of the Eurasian Economic Union with two other former Soviet republics, coupled with Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, means he wants to rebuild a post-communist Soviet Union or as much of it as he can.

He does, however, intend the alliance, with a market of 170 million people, a combined annual GDP of $2.7 trillion (€2 trillion) and vast energy riches, to demonstrate that Western sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine will not isolate Russia.

Union snubbed

Moscow

“Our meeting today of course has a special and, without exaggeration, an epoch- making significance,” Putin said of the treaty, signed to loud applause from rows of seated officials in the modern Kazakh capital, Astana. “This document brings our countries to a new stage of integration while fully preserving the states’ sovereignty.”

The Eurasian Economic Union will formally come into force on January 1st. – (Reuters)