Unlike always pragmatic relations with foreign countries beyond the CIS, our ties with CIS partners are considerably influenced by our common past. At the same time, there is a widely-spread opinion in Russian society that Russia "feeds" former Soviet republics for no purpose getting nothing in return and sometimes even facing open expression of anti-Russian moods of its neighbors.
But as Deputy Economy Minister of Russia Dmitry Sukhoparov said, relations with former USSR republics are not less and maybe even more beneficial for Russia than ties with foreign countries beyond the CIS, both in a geopolitical and economic respect. "Today, our relations with CIS countries are coming to the foreground. Progress in this field is our top priority, as these are our closest neighbors. Our future depends on relations with them, and this is not an exaggeration. Intensive activities are underway not only regarding bilateral relations but also within various integration unions. As for bilateral meetings, they take place every week in different formats. They are both official summits and unofficial meetings, like the meeting of presidents in St. Petersburg. In general, the top priority is not just a slogan, it is life that requires this. The benefit is mutual here. For example, our gas pipelines go through Ukraine and Belarus. Currently a gas consortium is being created in Ukraine with Russia's participation. Since the Soviet era we have had very close technological cooperation. The most considerable one is with Belarus. As early as in 1995, we unified all rates and excises and abolished a customs frontier between our countries, which doubled commodity turnover in five years, while turnover with other countries, for example, with Uzbekistan, went down," the Vremya Novostey newspaper reported.
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