MOSCOW: Ukraine's top diplomat arrived in Moscow today on a mission to mend ties, the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to come to Russia since the Kremlin refused to do business with its current leadership.
Meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine wanted to leave the past behind. "Ukraine is ready for the resumption of dialogue at all levels, including the highest one," Poroshenko told Lavrov.
"I can assure you that all branches of power without exception are today interested in Ukraine having an effective, equal, partner-like and strategic attitude towards Russia," he told reporters after the talks.
Poroshenko is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to visit Moscow since Medvedev sent an angry letter to his fiercely pro-Western Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko in August.
Medvedev has also accused Yushchenko of pursuing "anti-Russian" policies, saying Russia could not have normal ties with Ukraine as long as he remained in power.
Talks to give Ukraine a five billion dollar loan it had requested have also been put on ice. Medvedev snubbed Yushchenko again earlier this month, refusing to meet with him on the sidelines of a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a grouping of ex-Soviet countries, in Moldova.
Lavrov offered measured praise of today's talks, indicating however that a number of outstanding issues remained.
"We've... agreed that the solution of issues, including any disputed issues which arise one way or another should be held on the basis of dialogue, talks, in a calm manner, without unneeded politicization," Lavrov said. Lavrov however did not say when a new Russian ambassador would arrive in Kiev, saying it will happen "in due course." In August, Medvedev said that Moscow would not be sending its ambassador to Kiev due to the "anti-Russian" policies of Yushchenko.
Poroshenko said the two countries had agreed to ramp up economic cooperation and also resume regular consultations at the level of deputy ministers, including on "issues of European security." He said Ukraine did not want to create difficulties for Russia's Black Sea fleet, based on the Crimean peninsula, saying Kiev would not renege on its agreements with Russia. The task of improving the badly strained ties with Russia falls to a figure also known as the "chocolate king" for his confectionery factories.
Poroshenko, who has no past diplomatic experience and who previously supervised the Ukrainian central bank, was named the Ukrainian foreign minister by the parliament on October 9.
The visit comes just several months before Ukraine is set to elect a new president, which experts say Yushchenko has no chance of winning.