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Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan sign pact

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MOSCOW, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have agreed to form a three-way commission to foster closer economic ties.

Officials from the three countries signed a compact Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking on state television, said the commission is to start work in January with the creation of what would be called the Eurasian Economic Union possible by 2015.

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The union is certain to be dominated by Russia, which has a much bigger economy than either of its neighbors. Belarus and Kazakhstan are both former Soviet states and are already in a customs union with Russia.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently floated a plan for a much larger bloc that would be similar to the European Union. But analysts say that may not be in the cards, given the distrust some former Soviet states have of Russia.

"These are the very early days, and it's hard to say whether it will lead to much more," said Kingsmill Bond of Citigroup Inc. in Moscow. "It seems highly unlikely to emulate the EU."

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