Russia sends ambassador to Ukraine

Following the first round of the presidential election in Ukraine, Moscow is finally sending Russia’s new ambassador to Kiev. Mikhail Zurabov has been personally instructed to by Dmitry Medvedev.

“I hope the Ukrainian election will produce a sensible efficient leadership, which would seek a constructive, friendly and comprehensive relationship with the Russian Federation. I believe you should take the job of our ambassador in Ukraine and try to make the maximum contribution into building friendly relations between our countries,” the Russian president told on Tuesday.

Zurabov was chosen as Russia’s new chief diplomat in Ukraine back in August. However, days after the appointment Dmitry Medvedev in a video statement put personal blame for the deteriorating relations between the two countries on his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko. Amid the tension, Zurabov’s arrival to Kiev was postponed.

Last Sunday’s election round made it absolutely clear that Yushchenko will retire as Ukrainian President. In the ballot he scored approximately 5% of votes.

Russia’s new man in the western neighbor has much to mend. Moscow and Kiev have numerous points of dispute, including unsettled gas cooperation, the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, quarrels over common history, Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, and the status of Crimea-based Black Sea fleet, among others.

Zurabov’s appointment as presidential envoy on trade and economic relations, which was also announced on Tuesday, is to give him extra authority to do the job.