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Russia's Medvedev Says Ukraine Welcome In Regional Security Bloc


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev addresses the audience at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv on May 18.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev addresses the audience at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv on May 18.

KYIV -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Ukraine is welcome to join a Russia-dominated security bloc of former Soviet republics.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Medvedev, who is currently on his first state visit to Ukraine, said today that "if in the future [Ukraine] consider it proper to join the CSTO, we would be happy to accept you."

"The CSTO is not the Warsaw Pact," he said. "[W]e do not need confrontation with NATO or other military blocs."

Ties between Russia and Ukraine have grown warmer quickly since the February election of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych's predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, shunned Russia and had made taking Ukraine into NATO one of his top priorities.

compiled from agency reports
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