Putin wants to leave his mark with Soviet-like power bloc
Vladimir Putin has said he wants to forge a "Eurasian Union" on the vast swath of territory that used to be the Soviet Union to compete with the European Union and the United States.
Speaking six months before he reassumes the Russian presidency for the third time, Mr Putin said he wanted to create a global power bloc that would straddle one-fifth of the earth's surface.
"We have a great inheritance from the Soviet Union," he wrote in the daily Izvestia newspaper.
"We inherited an infrastructure, specialised production facilities, and a common linguistic, scientific and cultural space. It is in our joint interests to use this resource for our development."
The Russian prime minister is known for revelling in Soviet nostalgia.
He denied his new plan was an attempt to resurrect the Russian-led superpower, insisting that the "Eurasian Union" would be freer than the Soviet Union and membership would be voluntary.
The Soviet Union included 15 different republics that became independent countries after its collapse in 1991.
Three of those countries -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- have since become members of the EU.
Georgia, a country that lost 20pc of its territory in a war against Russia in 2008, would also be highly unlikely to acquiesce. But Mr Putin said an existing kernel of three countries -- Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus -- were already locked into a new common economic space that would serve as the foundation for the Eurasian Union.
Mr Putin said he expected Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to sign up soon.
Andrei Okara, a political analyst, said: "Putin does not just see himself as a Russian leader but on a historical scale. He wants to make moves that will leave their mark on history." (©Daily Telegraph, London)