MINSK, Belarus – Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country does not oppose ex-Soviet states seeking closer ties with Western countries, but has criticized them for not taking Moscow's interests into account.
Leaders from the 11-member Commonwealth of Independent States met Friday in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, to discuss closer ties. The president of Ukraine — which is facing the most violent conflict in post-Soviet history, between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents — did not attend.
Putin lashed out at the European Union for "not considering it necessary ... to discuss the risks" of political and economic integration with post-Soviet countries. Ukraine's decision to sign an association agreement with the EU in September provoked complaints from the Kremlin that it would hurt Russia's economy.