Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of several former Soviet republics in St. Petersburg on December 26, a day after the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that Putin believes the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a disaster.
While the disintegration cannot now be reversed, Putin believes a "new integration in the space of the former Soviet Union" is needed, Peskov said.
The presidents of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan were in St. Petersburg for the meetings, which included informal summits of the Eurasian Economic Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, whose country is a member of both organizations, did not attend.
Putin told the group that "creation of a favorable business environment" will be needed in each country to achieve full-fledged development of their economies.
Since forming a common market with the other Eurasian Economic Union countries two years ago, he said trade between them has already increased significantly.
Nontariff trade barriers have been slashed by 30 percent, he said, and a single market for drug and medical products has been created.
He said the group aims to form by 2025 a common financial market and common markets for gas, oil, and petroleum products, with harmonized rules of trade.
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