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Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has said he is sure that relations
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has said he is sure that relations between Russia and Ukraine will improve dramatically in the next few years.

"We must carry out a historic reconciliation," Yushchenko told Ukraine's ICTV TV channel late on Monday. "I am convinced that in two or three years we will have relations like those we have now with the Poles."

Relations between the former Soviet republics have soured in recent years over a host of issues, including a bid by Ukraine's pro-Western government to join NATO, Russia's Black Sea Fleet base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, and energy prices.

Ukraine also backed Georgia during its five-day conflict with Russia in August. Moscow has also accused Kiev of supplying weapons to the conflict zone, but Ukraine has denied the allegations.

"We must do everything to make relations with Russia rational," the Ukrainian president said, describing the current state of affairs as "troublesome."

He also said that Ukraine suffered from a perception that it was the "smaller brother" in relations with Russia.

"We are equal," he said, going on to say that Ukrainians were not 'khokhly,' a usually derogatory term used by Russians to describe Ukrainians.

"We have a great love for Russia," he said. "But we are an independent state."


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