Russia and its partners in the Customs Union (CU) will not force other countries, including Ukraine, to join the CU, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference after his meeting with Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych.
"Russia and other partners will by no means impose Customs Union membership on anyone," he said, adding that any country must weigh both pros and cons before such a move. He cited Belarus whose GDP had grown by 16% at the moment of CU accession.
At the same time, Putin said that it is very difficult to introduce any change in trade relations within the framework of such integration structures as, for example, the EU common market or the Customs Union. "Thus, for example, the process of integration that is under way in the European Union takes years, documents are drawn up and agreed with all members. It is very difficult to change them for a new member, as an approval from every member is needed," he said.
Putin also stressed that Russia and Ukraine continue active cooperation in the development of the bilateral relations.