On Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev addressed a plenary session during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The session was focused on the theme, "Capitalizing on the New Global Economic Reality," and Nazarbaev called on the EU to cooperate with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which is currently comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
"Disintegration and economic isolation don't solve any of the internal problems, that's just self-delusion," Nazarbaev said.
"The EEU wants to see an effective, stable European Union, with which it wants to closely cooperate. In exactly the same way cooperation with our union is beneficial for Europe."
During the plenary Russian President Vladimir Putin also outlined plans for deeper international economic links, particularly with Asian countries.
"We propose the creation of a large Eurasian partnership with the participation of the EEU and also countries with which we have already developed close relations: China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and of course our partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as other interested countries and unions," Putin said.
"This project has great potential, taking into account Russia's movement to the East and China's movement to the West via its 'Silk Road' economic belt, which is, roughly speaking, economic expansion in Europe."
"At the moment Europe is in a very difficult position, in crisis, and it needs a long-term project that would breathe new life into it," Karaganov said.
Karaganov believes that the force of China would be tempered by the other members of the union, to Beijing's ultimate benefit.
"It's not possible for there to be hegemony in this community because China's role will be balanced with that of India, Iran and Russia. That also gives huge possibilities for China because it can immerse its power into this community, and others will fear it less. They fear China now because it is very powerful," Karaganov said.
Leonid Kalashnikov, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, told Vzglyad that a Eurasian partnership of the EEU and its neighboring states is a good response to the economic expansion of the US, in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which has been so controversial in Europe.
"I think it’s a good answer to what the US is up to, concealing its economic expansion with political or pseudo-democratic goals."
"We see, and China sees, that they are trying to isolate us. To some they try to do it faster – through sanctions, using pseudo-arguments in the case of Ukraine. With others they are slower, like China, who they didn't invite to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now we have seen that, and we have to unite," Kalashnikov said.