Today saw the official show of new relations between Russia and Ukraine in Moscow as President Viktor Yanukovic was accorded full military honours.
It is the first visit of a Ukranian leader to the Russian capital for two years and it is hoped these will be the first steps in diffusing years of tension between the two countries following the reign of Ukraine’s pro western President Yushenko.
This series of meetings with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin comes four days after Yanukovic’s visit to Brussels. Moscow’s message was clear:
“I hope the black period in the history between the Russian Federation and Ukraine will cease to exist with your arrival and through your activities. And I hope that we are looking at a whole new manner of cooperation,” said Medvedev.
The presence of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Ukraine’s port of Sevastopol could play a key part in the political horsetrading and the emergence of stronger ties.
It is due to be withdrawn in 7 years. An extended stay could be negotiated in exchange for maintaining Ukraine as a reliable gas transit route to Europe and avoid any repeat of a gas price dispute with Russia.