Putin urges measures to protect trade group from Ukraine fallout

NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, March 5 Wed Mar 5, 2014 8:47am EST

NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia, March 5 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the crisis in Ukraine could have a negative effect on the Customs Union linking Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and called for measures to protect the three nations' producers and exporters.

"The extraordinary situation ... in Ukraine arouses serious concerns," Putin told the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan at the start of talks at his residence outside Moscow.

"Negative consequences for the Customs Union markets are possible too, and therefore we should think together about measures to protect our producers and exporters," said Putin, whose hopes of bringing Ukraine into the union have been set back severely by the downfall of President Viktor Yanukovich.