Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who came to power on pledges of resetting ties with Russia, was expected in Moscow Friday amid efforts to defuse years of tensions between the two neighbors.
Arriving for the first Russian visit by a Ukrainian head of state in two years, Yanukovych, who took office last week, was scheduled to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, considered to be the country’s paramount leader.
“The intensification of political dialogue is among the priority tasks,” the Kremlin said in a statement ahead of the visit.
“The meeting of the heads of state is designed to give a serious impetus to the development of the entire set of Russian-Ukrainian relations, the resumption of their truly good neighborly and mutually beneficial nature.”
Moscow and Kiev had frosty ties over the past five years as Yanukovych’s predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, ousted in the January polls, sought to bring Ukraine into the NATO military alliance.