Yushchenko Sees Better Ties Under Medvedev

LONDON -- Ukraine expects to have better ties with Russia under President Dmitry Medvedev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Sunday.

"We really and truly want progress with the new president of Russia and we will be doing everything possible for that," Yushchenko told Britain's Sky News in an interview during a visit to London.

"I think that [Medvedev] is a person of my generation. And this generation does not think a lot about stereotypes of the past," he added.

"I think that both parties are interested in improving their relations. I think we have to get rid of some orthodoxy of policy that sometimes gets in the way of improving relations."

Yushchenko, who aims to bring his country of 40 million into NATO and the European Union, had frequent disputes with Russia under President Vladimir Putin, who now serves as prime minister under Medvedev.

Putin strongly opposed Ukraine's goal of joining NATO. Moscow still has considerable leverage over Ukraine because it supplies it with energy, and much of the population in eastern Ukraine is Russian-speaking with cultural links to Russia.

But Yushchenko said it was Kiev's sovereign right to determine its own foreign policy, and that he believed a new generation of Russian politicians was willing to accept that.

"I can see many politicians right now in Russia who are ready to well understand the new layout of independent states. Therefore I am a very optimistic politician," Yushchenko said.