Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting the Band Back Together: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan to Formalize Trade Bloc (Kyrgyzstan, Armenia hope to join by year end)

From Asharq al-Awsat:

Putin forms ex-Soviet trade bloc to challenge EU, US 
Astana, Kazakhstan—Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday signed a treaty with his counterparts from Kazakhstan and Belarus creating a trading bloc of more than 170 million people to challenge the United States and European Union.

The formal creation of the Eurasian Economic Union in the Kazakh capital of Astana marks the culmination of two decades of talks between former Soviet republics.

Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are seeking to join the union by the end of the year, the countries’ leaders said at the signing ceremony today.

Putin, facing sanctions from the US and EU for his annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, said the three countries will “gradually align” their currency and monetary policies to facilitate trade and minimize risks. The Russian leader has pushed for Ukrainian membership in the union and, before relations soured with the EU, urged the creation of a free-trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.

“The Eurasian Union is a realization of Putin’s geopolitical dream,” said Nikolay Petrov, a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center research group. “The Eurasian Union is a demonstration that Russia is not alone.”...MORE
No word on what this means for Kazakhstan's "Don't call me Stan" name change