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13 Feb, 2010 09:09

Ukraine-Russia: friends will be friends

Ukraine’s relationship with Russia has been on the rocks in recent years - but that is about to change, according to the incoming Ukrainian president.

As congratulations from world leaders continue to flow in, the newly-elected Viktor Yanukovich has pledged to reverse policies that have sparked rows with Russia.

Yanukovich spoke to Russian TV channels, saying his country is ready to back President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new pan-European security treaty.

He also said Ukraine has no plans to step up cooperation with NATO – and that joining the alliance is not on the agenda.

On another divisive issue, Yanukovich said Kiev is likely to extend the lease of Russia's naval base on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, set to expire in 2017.

“We have plenty of issues to discuss, because over the past five years, relations between Russia and Ukraine have been troubled, and decisions have been postponed or passed over. We need to return to the friendly way our relations were conducted in the past, and work together for the good of both countries,” Yanukovich said.

A political analyst from Moscow University of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, sees good reasons behind Yanukovich’s cautious tone.

“According to Ukraine’s Constitution, the president should rely on a parliamentary majority. This is a challenge for Yanukovich, who has a tough and unpredictable battle ahead. That’s why he should be cautious giving promises to the West or to the East,” Koktysh told RT.