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  Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Viktor Yushchenko has promised that Russia would remain Ukraine's main strategic partner
Viktor Yushchenko, leader of the Our Ukraine bloc, has promised that Russia would remain Ukraine's main strategic partner if he wins the upcoming presidential elections on October 31. "I am convinced that relations with Russia will become truly mutually advantageous, friendly and stable after October 2004. Let's be honest about it - Russia is an important area of Ukraine's strategic interests. And it is so, no matter who comes to power," Mr. Yushchenko said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In his words, "the new authorities will have to do their best to step up relations with Russia." "Europe is also a zone of our strategic interests. I don't see any conflict here, and I don't consider these two foreign policy vectors to be mutually exclusive. Ukraine needs equal partnership in the East and in the West," noted Mr. Yushchenko. As for the Russian factor at the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine, the leader of the Our Ukraine bloc said it was not the decisive factor, but it was fairly important. "It naive to think that Russia will point out who should be elected Ukrainian president. We can only say seriously that Moscow cannot but be concerned over the strategy of the Ukrainian-Russian cooperation," he said. Viktor Yushchenko also noted, "in the past few years, Ukraine's foreign policy has turned into an instrument for bargaining with Russia and the West." "This has long turned from politics into politicking," he pointed out. Political scientists assess the chances of Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western candidate from the opposition, and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who is seen as a potential successor and follower of President Kuchma, as fifty-fifty. Therefore, a lot will depend on the election campaign and on whether the contesters win over at least part of each other's electorate.
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