Ex-Soviet states form new alliance
Leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed to create the Eurasian Economic Union, an alliance intended to further boost economic and trade ties between the ex-Soviet neighbours.
Speaking during talks in Kazakhstan's capital Astana today, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the pact is taking their cooperation to a "new level" while fully respecting their sovereignty.
Mr Putin said the new union will help provide an "attractive centre of economic development" and allow the three nations to fully exploit their economic potential and strengthen their positions in global markets.
The new alliance is the development of the Customs Union, including the same nations. In addition to free trade, it coordinates the members' financial systems and regulates industrial and agricultural policies along with their labour markets and transport systems.