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Ukraine: Kuchma Criticizes Russia For 'Imperial Attitude'

Moscow, 20 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has criticized Russia for having what he called an imperial attitude toward Ukraine in remarks published today in a Russian daily newspaper.

Kuchma told "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" that Moscow was to blame for deteriorating relations between the two states and said President Boris Yeltsin was "not among Russian politicians" seeking to normalize relations with Kyiv.

He said Russian politicians were not willing to understand Ukraine's position and failed to treat the former Soviet republic as a sovereign state.

Kuchma said difficulties in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) were due to Russia's desire to control the alliance that is comprised of 12 former Soviet republics.

He downplayed that differences between Moscow and Kyiv over NATO expansion had caused relations to sour. But he added, "forces in Russia", would exploit improved Ukrainian-NATO relations to worsen tensions with Moscow.