Ukraine Leader Leans Toward Moscow

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's president has taken steps to wean his country away from NATO and the European Union, and move toward Russia, the presidential Web site said Saturday.

Pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abolished Ukraine's National Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and two other institutes dealing with national and international security issues, RIA Novosti said.

The previous president, Viktor Yushchenko, took strong pro-Western positions, the report said, often at the expense of ties with Russia.

Yanukovych's power base is in the largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, the report said, and he has promised to improve relations with Russia.

Yanukovych says Kiev will stay out of all international defense blocs -- Yushchenko had tried to get closer to NATO -- and that it is too early for European Union membership.

Source: UPI