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Ukraine takes a stand, tells Russia it will not be bullied


KIEV, December 22 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said Thursday that his country is ready to maintain its partnership with Russia, but will not put up with blackmail or pressure.

"Ukraine confirms its willingness to maintain a partnership with Russia. However, our country will never tolerate blackmail or pressure, which look like desperate attempts [from Russia] to assert itself rather than the well thought-out policy of an international player," the minister told a news conference marking Diplomat's Day.

Tarasyuk said Ukraine had been strategically leaning toward good-neighborly and equal relations with Russia since Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko came to power.

"Despite any political collision during the campaign of 2004, our head of state made a sound decision to carry out his first visit to Russia. This step meant the intention to start a new practical, articulate and mutually understandable dialogue with Moscow," Tarasyuk said.

He said Ukraine was pessimistic about the prospects for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Common Economic Space (CES) for Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

"In the context of problems that appeared in 2005, it is hard to forget the fruitless attempts to advance down the lines of the CIS and CES," the minister said.

"Ukraine's actions have not found an adequate reaction from our colleagues, which casts doubt on these projects' positive prospects," Tarasyuk said.

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