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18270During Baptism Anniversary, Putin Lau ds Russian-Ukrainian “Spiritual Unity,” U rges Integration

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Jul 28, 2013
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      During Baptism Anniversary, Putin Lauds Russian-Ukrainian “Spiritual
      Unity,” Urges Integration

      KIEV, July 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin praised
      on Saturday the “spiritual unity” between Russia and Ukraine and urged
      closer integration between the two nations.

      Putin arrived in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to take part in
      festivities celebrating the 1025th anniversary of baptism of Kievan Rus,
      a medieval state that comprised parts of what is now Russia and Ukraine.
      His calls for integration emphasized Moscow’s concerns over Ukraine’s
      reluctance to join a Moscow-dominated economic bloc.

      “Spiritual unity is something so strong that it is not affected by
      influence of authorities – neither state nor church [authorities]”,
      Putin told top Ukrainian Orthodox clerics.

      Later Saturday, he said that Ukraine’s economic integration with Russia
      will benefit both nations.

      “We will respect any choice of the Ukrainian people and state about the
      level of participation in the integration processes in the post-Soviet
      space,” he said addressing participants of a conference organized by the
      Ukraine’s Choice political party that seeks closer ties with Russia.

      Ukraine has been reluctant to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus
      and Kazakhstan because doing so might prevent it from clinching a
      free-trade agreement with the European Union. Ukraine may sign the
      long-delayed agreement in November.

      The Customs Union was created in January 2001, one month after leaders
      of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an agreement to create the
      Eurasian Economic Commission, a new supranational body to manage
      economic integration of the three former Soviet republics.

      In late May, Ukraine signed a memorandum to deepen cooperation with the
      Customs Union, but stopped short of gaining observer status.

      In early June, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said that his
      nation’s cooperation with the Customs Union does not contradict
      Ukraine’s bid to join the World Trade Organization or Kiev's strategic
      course of Euro-integration.

      Ukraine, which has few energy resources of its own, relies heavily on
      gas imports from Russia. The 2009 gas deal signed between Moscow and
      Kiev tied the price for Russian gas to international oil prices, which
      have risen significantly since 2009, increasing Ukraine's bill.

      Russia has repeatedly said that it could cut gas prices for its neighbor
      if Ukraine joins the Customs Union.