Russia Sees Improved Ties With Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia's foreign minister says strained relations with neighboring Ukraine will improve with the election of a new president there this month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Sergey Lavrov said Friday that he expects Ukraine to take a less ideological stance against its larger eastern neighbor.

Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych is running against Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a second round of voting on Feb. 7.

Both have promised to resuscitate ties with Russia, which are flatlining after four years of Western-friendly foreign policy under outgoing incumbent Viktor Yushchenko.

Yushchenko suffered a humiliating first-round defeat.

Russia is Ukraine's biggest trading partner and historically the region's dominant military power.

Russia has bristled at Ukrainian attempts to gain NATO membership.

Source: BusinessWeek