Putin and Lukashenko downplay talk of merging their two nations, Russia and Belarus

he leaders of Russia and Belarus pledged closer cooperation on military, economic and foreign policy but gave no indication Friday that the ex-Soviet neighbors were moving closer to a long-discussed full merger. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Belarus stoked speculation that he could press for the creation of a unified state and maintain power by taking a job that would place him above the two nations’ presidents after he leaves Russia’s presidency next year. Full Story

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