Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are pivotal political and economic priority of Russia, said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
"Cooperation is profound. We have common transportation and energy networks and speak Russian," Putin was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as telling leaders of political groups in Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
The CIS, an alliance of 11 former Soviet Republics, groups Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan. Georgia withdrew from the bloc due to the South Ossetia conflict last year.
Putin also said that entering the World Trade Organization (WTO)remains on Russia's agenda, but "the customs union of Belarus and Kazakhstan has come to the forefront."
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed on June 9 to start new talks on WTO accession as a single customs union, and thus suspend individual talks.
Russia, which has been seeking WTO membership for more than 15 years, is the largest economy remaining outside the global trade watchdog.
Putin also recalled the recent Yekaterinburg summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
"We will build up cooperation in these formats," he said.