Cleveland, Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty Corp. became the first U.S. REIT to announce a major development initiative targeting the Russian Federation and Ukraine in May. The REIT is forming a $300 million joint venture with Hamburg-based ECE Projektmanagement G.m.b.H. & Co. KG, a German real estate development and management firm. The joint venture plans to leverage the fund by up to 75 percent, giving the partnership investment potential of up to $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, in late April, Simon Property Group CEO David Simon said the Indianapolis-based firm was close to one deal in Russia and considering another, but would not elaborate. Local real estate professionals, however, are aware that Simon is in talks with a Russian-owned firm to form a joint venture to develop a large regional shopping center in Moscow, says Peter Hensby, who works in the Moscow capital markets department for Jones Lang LaSalle.