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Ukraine's Yushchenko Heads to Russia for Talks

  • Lisa McAdams

Ukraine's new President, Viktor Yushchenko, is scheduled to begin the first full day of his term Monday with a one-day trip to Russia. The trip comes after a day of inaugural festivities in which the new leader pledged to re-orient Ukraine, a traditional Russian stronghold, toward Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the last world leaders to congratulate President Yushchenko on his election victory, but he will be the first world leader to welcome him on an official visit.

During a one-day trip to Moscow Monday, Presidents Putin and Yushchenko are expected to try and move beyond the bruised feelings of the election campaign, during which Mr. Putin openly supported the rival candidate, Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr. Putin has since said Mr. Yushchenko, the third post-Soviet President since Independence, is a man he knows and can work with.

One big issue the two will have to tackle is whether Ukraine, a major regional economic player, will join what Russia calls the "common economic space."

President Putin says common economic zones are beneficial for both nations. But Mr. Yushchenko has been told by Western observers that Kiev's participation in such unions could jeopardize its chances of joining the European Union.