Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has outlined a proposal to set up a so-called "Eurasian Union" of former Soviet states that would build on an existing Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Putin, who is expected to become Russia's next president when elections are held in March, outlined his first foreign policy initiative in an article in Tuesday's Izvestia newspaper.
The prime minister, who once described the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century," denied his project is an attempt to rebuild the old Soviet Union.
The current Customs Union is scheduled to remove all barriers to trade, capital and labor movement between the three countries in 2012. Putin said that Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were expected to join the new Eurasian Union, which he predicts will become a major global player.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.