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Russia Calls for Free Trade Zone Between EU, EEU

Russia is pushing for a free trade zone between the European Union and the nascent Eurasion Economic Union, whose members will include Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia when the bloc comes into force on Jan. 1, 2015.

Work is already underway to integrate the unions, and the suggestion for the free trade zone will be presented at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Basel, Switzerland next month.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, said it is time to start the dialogue between the EU and the EEU, adding that, “The Eurasian Union will be a very serious element of a bridge between Europe and the Asia-Pacific Region,” Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

Lavrov noted that the EU is Russia’s major collective partner and said the country would not “shoot itself in the foot” and opt not to cooperate with Europe.

“Our economy is of course damaged by the sanctions,” Lavrov added in reference to the Western sanctions imposed as a result of Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea. “But so are the economies of the countries which had introduced them.”