A giant new economic union goes into effect today, connecting an area that's about as large as the U.S. and Canada put together.
It's called the Eurasian Economic Union and it joins together Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Armenia will become an official member tomorrow and Kyrgyzstan will also join up in the summer. Negotiations are going on with other nations in the region.
It's set up to be a single market like the European Union, and include a court, a development bank, and possibly a parliament.
It's part of the grand vision Russian President Putin had in 2011 to stitch together former Soviet Republics into something resembling the European Union.
But the pact goes into amid conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and with the Russian currency and economy staggering.
Meantime, the small Baltic nation of Lithuania is taking a big step in the opposite direction, formally giving up its currency today to adopt the Euro.
Steven Pifer, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, joins Here & Now's Lisa Mullins to discuss the new organization and its global implications.
This segment aired on January 1, 2015.