Ukraine political infighting threatens its statehood – Russia

16:48, 02 February 2009
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Russia`s ambassador to Kyiv said Monday

Russia`s ambassador to Kyiv said Monday that Ukraine risked ceasing to exist as a state if its politicians don`t stop infighting that has already caused political deadlock, AFP reported.

"Such a state would hardly survive or would be able to survive for a long time," Viktor Chernomyrdin, veteran Russian ambassador to Ukraine, told a news conference in Moscow.

He urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to stop their feud and speak to Moscow with one voice.

"It`s important to us, we need this," he said. "We really mean that Ukraine is a strategic partner for us."

Following a dispute over prices, Russia on New Year`s Day cut gas supplies to Ukraine, disrupting energy flows to a swathe of European countries amid a cold winter spell. Supplies were restored two weeks later thanks to a deal agreed to by Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Yushchenko`s administration has said the agreement was more favorable to Moscow and might be revisited.

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were allies in the Orange Revolution that ousted pro-Russian rule in Ukraine but have since fallen out in an acrimonious power struggle marked by increasingly angry accusations.

Asked by AFP who among the Ukrainian politicians was Moscow`s most preferred partner, Chernomyrdin declined to take sides.

"This is truly a painful question. Of course, it is interesting to work with those who show you goodwill and whom you show goodwill in response, as in any business," he said.

Ukraine is expected to hold a presidential vote in late 2009 or early 2010. During 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine, Putin congratulated pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych twice before the official results were out, a move derided as a major Kremlin faux pas.

According to a poll released in Ukraine in early January, Yushchenko`s support plunged to a humiliating 2.4%. At 22.3%, Yanukovych was the front-runner, followed by Tymoshenko, who scored 13.9%.

Chernomyrdin said economic relations between the two countries flourished despite the tensions, saying Ukraine`s trade turnover with Russia was on par with that with the European Union.

"This is what Russia is to Ukraine," he said. "It`s a pity they in Ukraine do not understand this."

He also said Kiev should stop glorifying local nationalist leaders who fought against the Soviet Union during World War II.

"They will next erect a monument to Hitler. It`s shameful and painful."

AFP via Nasdaq

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