Addressing a meeting of Russian and European Union (eu) business leaders early this month, President Vladimir Putin said that "we often unfortunately face excessively tough requirements, which are blocking Russia's entrance into the wto [World Trade Organization]". Russia is the largest economy outside the wto and has been trying to join it for eight years.
The eu wants Russia to increase domestic oil and gas prices to the European average immediately as a condition for entry, but Russia would like to hang on to the advantage it gets in the world market due to its lower prices.
Indeed, Putin seems to be actively brokering for an 'oil advantage' for Russia. Addressing visiting members of the us-appointed Iraqi Governing Council on December 22, Putin suggested Russia was willing to forego Baghdad's us $8 billion debt to Moscow if Russian oil companies got a share of contracts in "reconstructing" Iraq.
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