According to Vladimir Putin, restoration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is impossible. Answering a question from the Bakulev Research Center of Cardiovascular Surgery on Thursday, the Russian president said: "Former Soviet republics will never be together again." "It is impossible to try and restore the USSR in the economic interests of Russia, because this step would speed up centrifugal forces inside the country and weaken Russia in the economical sense," stressed Putin. "On the other hand, if we go on developing and if our country grows into an economically strong power, we shall be attracting our partners -- in the interests of our partners." He also noted that Ukraine and Kazakhstan have recently been discussing the setting up of a free trade zone. Russia, however, "does not want to force or even persuade anyone into anything," he said. "We want country leaders and nations to see for themselves if what we suggest suits them or not." The president remarked, "Today, we collect taxes for oil and gas in the country that produces them that is, in Russia; if we switch over to free trade, the taxes for oil and gas will be collected by Ukraine, the country we deliver it to." In this case, the Russian budget will annually lose 450 million dollars to Ukraine.
"Yes, we will lose about 450 million, but then economic entities will stop the anti-dumping activity that stifles the business and prevents it from developing," said the president. "In the long run, it is going to be all the more advantageous."