Victory Day on May 9 was an occasion for Russians to indulge in patriotic flag waving in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin used the previous day to muster a show of diplomatic support for his efforts to bring formerly Soviet states closer together.
On May 8, Putin met with the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in the Kremlin. Following the success of the Euromaidan movement in Kyiv, Putin has made it a priority to shore up support among other formerly Soviet states for Russia’s geopolitical agenda, in particular the establishment of a regional economic union as a precursor to a wider political union of Eurasian states.
A treaty on the formation of a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is due to be signed in Astana in late May, paving the way for its launch in January 2015. The body would be an outgrowth of the existing Customs Union, a free trade zone comprising Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are slated to join the Customs Union before the end of the year.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.