Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma yesterday told a senior staff meeting of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry that stable Ukrainian-Russian relations are a fundamental Ukrainian national interest and a cornerstone of international security. Kuchma asked the ministry to focus on finalizing the Ukrainian-Russian framework treaty and the terms of the Russian fleet’s use of Ukrainian port facilities as top priorities in the aftermath of Russia’s presidential election. History, geography, and other factors dictate the need for normal good-neighborly relations between Ukraine and Russia, Kuchma said.
At the same Ukraine pursues the "strategic goal of integration in European and transatlantic institutions," Kuchma pointed out. He instructed the Foreign Ministry to redouble efforts to achieve privileged trade relations with the European Union, the status of associate partner of the West European Union (the EU’s defense arm), a "special partnership with NATO," and the "deepening of friendly relations with the USA" (Interfax-Ukraine, July 15)
The instructions follow the agenda unveiled by Kuchma a week earlier at the Salzburg summit of Central European countries, at which the Ukrainian president was the only president of an ex-Soviet republic in attendance. Kiev seeks to secure its eastern flank both through codified relations with Moscow and by gradually developing security cooperation with the West.
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