(The New York Times) Kazakhstan—The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formally signed an agreement Thursday to create a limited economic union—an alliance hobbled by the absence of Ukraine but one long pursued by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to confirm his country as a global economic force.
“Today we are creating a powerful, attractive center of economic development, a big regional market that unites more than 170 million people,” Mr. Putin said during the ceremonies. He underscored the significant energy resources, work force and cultural heritage of the combined nations.
The geography of the group, formally known as the Eurasian Economic Union, meant it had the potential to create a global transportation hub joining the trade flows of Europe and Asia, Mr. Putin said, sitting at a table with his two fellow leaders in front of their respective flags. […]
“Three weak economies getting together and integrating, how much good can come out of it?” said Nargis Kassenova, the director of the Central Asian Studies Center at Kimep University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and part of a small but vocal opposition to the union in Kazakhstan. “Now it is even worse because one is under sanctions and drifting away from the West,” she added, referring to Western economic sanctions against Russia.
“It is meant to signal that these Western programs and opprobrium are not having an effect on the economy and that Russia is developing into a distinct pole in the multipolar system,” said Alexander Cooley, a political science professor at Barnard College.
See the full article "Putin Signs Economic Alliance With Kazakhstan and Belarus" by Neil MacFarquhar © The New York Times