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Medvedev says better ties with Kiev unlikely in future

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SOCHI, August 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that he saw no prospects of bilateral ties improving with Ukraine in the future, but stressed that Russia was not to blame for the current situation.

At a news conference after talks with the German leader, Angela Merkel, at his residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Medvedev reiterated that relations between Russia and Ukraine had "worsened drastically."

"I do not think Russia is to blame," the Russian leader said.

In an open letter to his Ukrainian counterpart earlier this week, Medvedev blamed Kiev for the deterioration in relations between the two former Soviet republics, strained in recent years by gas disputes, Ukraine's desire to join NATO, and interpretations of the Soviet-era famine in Ukraine.

"I cannot see any prospects for restoring normal relations with [Ukraine's] incumbent authorities... I will be happy [if the situation changes]," Medvedev said commenting on his decision to delay sending a new Russian ambassador to Kiev.

Presidential polls in Ukraine are slated for January 17. The popularity of Ukraine's incumbent leader, Viktor Yushchenko, is currently in single digits.

"I hope that a new Ukrainian leadership will have significantly more opportunities to improve relations. Russia wants this, and it is a top priority for our foreign policy," Medvedev said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko earlier on Friday said, commenting on relations with Moscow, "I have always built and will build relations with Russia as an equal, taking into account national interests, mutual advantage, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

However, she warned that "Ukraine will choose its foreign and domestic policy itself."

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