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Russia's Putin Addresses CIS Summit Overshadowed by Ukraine

  • VOA News

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Minsk, Oct. 10, 2014.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks at the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Minsk, Oct. 10, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin -- embroiled in an a bitter standoff with Western governments over Ukraine -- said his country does not oppose moves by ex-Soviet states to establish closer economic ties with the West.

But he told leaders of 11 Commonwealth of Independent States on Friday that he faults member-states for not considering the risks of such moves to the Russian economy.

Ukraine -- seeking greater economic prosperity and stability -- signed a historic free trade agreement with the European Union in June, after rejecting Kremlin overtures to form a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Ahead of the EU deal, pro-Western protesters in Kyiv drove Ukraine's former president from office, after the pro-Moscow leader rejected EU trade pact proposals in favor of the Russian-dominated CIS.

In April, weeks after the ouster of former president Viktor Yanukovych, separatists in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine launched a rebellion that has claimed more than 3,500 lives.

Russia's role in supporting the six-month rebellion has been widely condemned in the West and triggered a spate of Western sanctions against Moscow.


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