Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed forming a “Eurasian Union” made up of former Soviet nations. He denied that it was an attempt to rebuild the Soviet empire, saying instead it could be a major competing influence with the United States, the European Union and Asia.
Putin is all but certain to become Russia’s president again in March’s election. The current president and Putin’s successor, Dmitry Medvedev, would become Prime Minister. Putin has been accused of hampering Russia’s democratic achievement in recent years. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have formed an economic alliance, but other former Soviet nations are suspicious of Moscow’s intentions.