The plan would ally Russia with ex-Soviet nations including Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and would also come into competition with the Eastern Partnership, an initiative launched two years ago by Poland and Sweden.
Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan already formed an economic alliance last summer that removed customs barriers in mutual trade. They are set to introduce unified market rules and regulations starting Jan. 1, and Putin has said that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are expected to join the group.
Many former satellite states look westward, and remain suspicious of Moscow’s intentions.
Ukraine, one of the more powerful Eastern European states economically, has continued to focus its attentions on the Soviet Union, and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych complained last month that the Kremlin was trying to coerce Ukraine into joining the collective.
The former president said the proposed alliance could compete for influence with the United States, European Union and Asia.
Russia has already formed stronger economic ties with Belarus and Kazakhstan, but Putin has suggested forming a group seen by some as rebuilding the former Soviet Union.
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