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Trade Deal Inked Between Russia and Ukraine Includes No Customs Union

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- While trying not to further antagonize the protesters in Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych met Tuesday in Moscow, where they signed a series of trade deals designed to give Ukraine badly needed economic relief.

Among the agreements: increased trade, 33 percent lower gas prices and a massive $15 billion Russian investment in a Ukrainian National Welfare Fund, which should be enough to cover the $17 billion economists say Ukraine needs over the next two years to meet loan payments.
Putin said the two sides didn’t discuss Ukraine joining the Russian-led Customs Union, as many had expected. That customs union was Russia’s proposed alternative to the EU trade deal that Ukraine walked away from, sparking the protests.
In short, Ukraine will receive the short-term relief that it desperately needed, while certainly taking a big step toward Moscow and preserving its ability to still enter into a trade deal with the EU.

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