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Russian PM sees ‘chance’ for better ties with new Ukraine leader

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By Agence France-Presse

Moscow has a chance of improving ties with Ukraine under the leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday, adding however that he has “no illusions”.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures as he speaks during a congress of United Russia Party in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Medvedev says sanctions on Russia are set to remain in place "for a long time" despite expectations the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president will lead to a thaw in relations between Washington and Moscow. (Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Government Pool Photo via AP) | mb.com.ph

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (AP photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In the first reaction by a senior Russian official following Sunday’s landslide victory for Zelensky, a comedian with no political experience, Medvedev said “there is a chance for improving cooperation with our country”.

The result of the election, in which Zelensky roundly defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko, “shows a clear demand for a new approach to solving Ukraine’s problems”, Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page.

Ukraine and Russia have been at odds since a 2014 uprising ousted a pro-Kremlin leader. Russia that year annexed Crimea and has backed separatists in a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed some 13,000 people.

Poroshenko during the campaign said that Zelensky was too inexperienced a leader to be able to stand up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev said he has “no illusions” about Zelensky.

“No doubt that the new head of state will use the same rhetoric towards Russia that he used in his campaign,” Medvedev wrote.

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