MOSCOW, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Russia's lower house of Parliament ratified a treaty Wednesday that welcomes Armenia into the Eurasian Economic Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast the EEU as a Soviet alternative to the European Union. Its membership already includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Armenia will officially become a member once ratified by Belarus and Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan is also seeking membership.
Although the EU was Armenia's main trade partner, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan abandoned aspirations to join the EU after a September 2013 meeting with Putin in Moscow. At the time, Putin was on a campaign to dissuade former Soviet republics from joining the EU.
"Armenia has shown the maximum will to go the Eurasian way of development. It is a historic decision for the formation of the EEU," Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Duma Committee for Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, told ITAR-Tass.