Putin says development of ex-Soviet states is priority for Russia

Integration with other former Soviet states is a priority for Russia and it will continue to distribute aid in pursuit of this aim, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in an interview published on Wednesday.

In an interview with a Moscow magazine, Putin, who once said that the loss of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century, said that the “integration processes” across the former Soviet Union “require spending.”

He said Moscow would continue to provide aid to the Russia-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Russia spent $472.32 million on foreign aid in 2010, according to a report released by the Finance Ministry in advance of last week’s G8 summit in Deauville, France. It did not provide separate figures for aid to CIS states.

“This spending is justified,” Putin told the VIP-Premier magazine. “In the end, we are all interested in having friendly, stable and dynamically developing countries around us.”

Relations with CIS states will remain Russia’s key foreign policy priority,” he said.

The premier said a common economic area Russia had established with the CIS states would “not only bring in significant dividends but also attract new members.”

But experts have warned against pumping in money while not getting any real feedback.

“What we wouldn’t want to see is just everything being restricted to providing financial assistance, full stop,” said Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia and CIS at HSBC.

“Russia will lose out, and the recipients may lose also if that money goes to ineffective state subsidies or to prop up the high exchange rates of their national currencies.”

MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti)

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