Russia, whose population makes half of the CIS population, brings over 60 per cent of the Commonwealth's total national income and remains its "leading link", said head of the Center for Research of CIS economic problems professor Vyacheslav Vashanov in an interview with RIA Novosti.
Russia has three major objective incentives for intense economic cooperation with the CIS countries, he believes.
Firstly, "Russian producers need a large, more or less guaranteed and relatively undemanding market for their products that are so far non-competitive on the world market." Secondly, former Soviet republics, especially Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, have large reserves of unique mineral resources, such as non-ferrous metals and rare-earth elements /manganese, titanium, chromium, lead, phosphor, uranium, barium, bismuth, strontium/ which are indispensable for modern production, Vashanov pointed out.
And thirdly, interaction with CIS countries is necessary to ensure Russian export goods to third countries. According to Vashanov, up to two thirds of Russian sea freight turnover is now conducted via non-Russian ports.
Moreover, participation in the CIS allowed Russia to stabilize the political situation on the former USSR territory, to ensure relative protection of Russian-speaking population's interests and to preserve 60-65 per cent of production-cooperation links and jobs for 26-30 million Russians, the economist said.
Thanks to close relations with the CIS member states, Russia has mainly managed to preserve the production potential of its military-industrial complex, Vashanov believes.
On the whole, interaction between the CIS countries does not develop adequately efficiently, he said. To intensify the integration process it is necessary "to transform many non-operating mechanisms of cooperation taking into account the new economic reality and the world experience," for example, the experience of the European Union, the expert concluded.
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