Russia tells Ukraine: join post-Soviet trade bloc

MOSCOW, Dec 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin encouraged Ukraine on Thursday to join Moscow-driven
efforts to integrate the economies of the biggest post-Soviet
republics into one trading bloc.

Ukraine has sought closer ties with Russia since the
election of Viktor Yanukovich in February 2010, abandoning the
goal of joining NATO and extending Russia’s lease of a military
base on the Black Sea.

“In the last 15 years we have seen the first real steps
towards integration and the creation of a new union between our
three states: Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus,” Putin said when
asked whether Ukraine and Russia should unite again.

“If our Ukrainian colleagues see some sort of benefit in
joining these processes, if Ukraine was to join these processes
in some form or another, then of course it would be a powerful,
important boost,” Putin said at his annual question-and-answer
session with the Russian people.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are already members of a
customs union and signed a macroeconomic policy coordination
agreement last month, an important part of their drive to create
a free trade zone in 2012.

But joining Russia-dominated efforts could hamper a deal
with the European Union because the customs union has a common
foreign trade policy with tight links to Russia.

Putin, a 58-year-old former KGB spy who watched from a
posting in East Germany as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991,
has sought to claw back some of the clout Russia lost when the
Soviet empire broke up.

“He who doesn’t regret the collapse of the Soviet Union has
no heart, but he who wants it restored in the original has no
brains,” Putin said, repeating one of his most notable comments.
(Writing by Thomas Grove; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Russia tells Ukraine: join post-Soviet trade bloc