chapter  11
Russia’s trade relations within the Commonwealth of Independent States
ByIndependent States JULIAN COOPER
Pages 18

It is now over fifteen years since the USSR collapsed and Russia and the other fourteen republics became independent countries. For as many years, the Russian Federation and the non-Baltic successor countries have been members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), within which, over time, various trading communities have been formed or are in process of formation. Since the summer of 1993 Russia has been attempting to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the time of writing, early 2007, the goal is at last in sight with a genuine possibility of accession in the first half of 2008 – one of the most protracted accessions in the organization’s history. President Putin’s second term of office has seen a turn to more market-based economic relations with CIS neighbours, leading to the development of new tensions and raising questions about the future development of trading relations in the ex-Soviet economic space. Russia is by far the strongest economic power within the CIS, but formally it is a commonwealth of equals. Do Russia’s relations with its partners accord with the principles of multilateralism, or are these relations governed by other rules, perhaps shaped to some extent by the Soviet past?