The latest Russian criticisms of its former Soviet vassal Ukraine have forced Kiev to hit back and call for calm. Russian President Dimitry Medvedev used his video blog to call for a new Ukrainian leader who would be easier to deal with. Relations between the two countries have slumped since 2004’s revolution which swept Viktor Yushchenko to power. Following Medvedev’s criticial comments, he decided to defend himself on television.
“I confirm my continued readiness to negotiate, as I have done at least three times in the past year in my letters to the Russian president,” said Yushchenko. “But this offer to talk is still on the table.” Medvedev’s attack is seen as a warning to candidates ahead of next January’s Ukrainian presidential elections. Yushchenko has slumped in the polls and is heading for defeat. The list of disagreements between the two countries is long: Ukraine demands Russia quits its leased Black Sea naval base in the Crimea, while Moscow was outraged by Kiev’s support for Georgia in last summer’s war.