Press Digest: The EEU expands, the CSTO meets, and Ukraine votes to join NATO

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left to right) during a visit to the National Center for Control of Defense. Source: Aleksey Druzhinin / RIA Novosti

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left to right) during a visit to the National Center for Control of Defense. Source: Aleksey Druzhinin / RIA Novosti

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events. Today, two alliances of non-Western countries wrap up their activities for the year, and Russian officials comment on Ukraine’s decision to work towards NATO membership.

The website reported on the session of the Eurasian Economic Union high council, which took place on Dec. 23 in Moscow. The EEU, which is currently made up of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, has accepted two new members, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, which will formally join in 2015.

The site quoted Ruslan Grinberg, the director of the Institute of the Economy at the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying Armenia’s decision to join the group was purely political. "Armenia needs Russia to guarantee its security, since it finds itself in constant confrontation with Azerbaijan," Grinberg said.

He added that Kyrgyzstan’s entry is part of its long-standing strategy of maneuvering between Moscow and Brussels. From the EU, Kyrgyzstan had received about 200 million euros for the development of infrastructure. Kyrgyzstan owes $1.2 billion in entry fees to join the EEU, but a part of this will be covered by preferential credit from Moscow. Kyrgyzstan's overall GDP is about $6.5 billion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is convinced that the union's expansion will not stop here. "Countries from other regions are also showing interest in increasing cooperation with the Eurasian Union: the final stage includes the preparation of agreements on free trade with Vietnam and similar agreements are being developed with Turkey, India and Israel," Putin said. 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper focused on another meeting of an organization of non-Western countries. RG reported that the council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held a session in the Kremlin on Dec. 23. The CSTO is made up of organization are Armenia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded participants of Russia's priorities during the course of this year, in which it held the chairmanship of the CSTO. Putin noted that Russia has been extremely attentive to the strengthening of the organization's external borders and the consolidation of resources for collective reaction; cooperation in peacekeeping missions was improved; and the creation of a united reaction force was started.

Putin also pointed out the role the CSTO members can play in fighting against terrorism and extremism. "We are all interested in a flourishing, prosperous and neutral Afghanistan," said Putin. "We hope that Afghanistan's new government will actively try to achieve stability in the country.”

Putin noted that extremist groups are trying to expand their activity to Central Asia, and the CSTO can play a role in preventing new terror attacks. "In these conditions, the CSTO must be ready to carry out proper preventive measures," Putin said, adding that greater attention should be paid to the Tajik-Afghan border, and that Tajikistan should be given financial and material aid for the modernization of its armed forces. 

 Nezavisimaya Gazeta

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reviews Russian reactions to the decision by the Ukrainian parliament to drop the country’s non-aligned status and work towards NATO membership. The paper quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who told Russian journalists the vote was "counterproductive.” “This only intensifies the confrontation and creates the illusion that these laws can regulate the profound domestic crisis in Ukraine,” Lavrov said. He recommended that the Ukrainian government "finally begin a dialogue with that part of its population that was fully ignored during the coup d'état," and implement constitutional reforms.

A harsher reaction to the Ukrainian deputies' decision came from Russia's Permanent Representative to the OSCE Andrei Kelin, who considers the vote an unfriendly act towards Russia. Kelin noted that Ukraine does not meet NATO membership requirements: "This law will not bring anything but alot of noise."

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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