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5 Mar, 2010 16:13

New era for Russia and Ukraine?

The atmosphere at Friday’s press conference with Medvedev and Yanukovich would have been hard to imagine with the Ukrainian’s predecessor, said RIA Novosti’s Dmitry Babich, but there is still cause for concern.

“If you look closely, there was nothing particularly new about what Mr. Yanukovich had to say,” Babich told RT. “He was very cautious. He did not [commit himself to] obligations. He did not promise to solve the gas problem tomorrow, he did not press for anything. He avoided saying when exactly he is going to cancel the decrees of former president Yushchenko, who made two people who collaborated with the Nazis Ukrainian heroes. So basically he did not [commit] himself in any way, but obviously, the atmosphere is much better. And I would not even imagine… a similar atmosphere between Putin and Yushchenko."

One of the key talking points for the two leaders on Friday’s meeting was stabilizing Russia and Ukraine's relations on gas.

Vyacheslav Mishchenko, from the Pace Global Energy Services, thinks there will be an improvement in the energy relations between Russia and Ukraine with Yanukovich now calling the shots in Kiev, adding that if Ukraine follows three key issues “to be transparent, to be consistent and to be reliable,” then positive changes will be seen in the nearest future, especially in the field of energy cooperation.

Mishchenko also noted that Ukraine’s role of middleman between Western Europe and Russia will remain in the sphere of gas, but there will be some reduction of its political influence in terms of gas supplies.

However, concerning its economical role, he said: “If Ukraine could prove that it is reliable and an economically attractive transit route, they will be okay with that.”

Fred Weir from the Christian Science Monitor told RT that Ukrainians are “sick and tired of the artificial geopolitical tensions between the country’s political powers.”

“For the past five years Ukraine has had to choose between the West and Russia,” he added. “Ukrainians don’t want it anymore – they want to be in a place where they can develop their relations in both directions in a free way.”