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Putin: No objection to Ukraine in EU
Updated: 2004-12-10 23:37

President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia has no objection to Ukraine joining the European Union.

"If Ukraine wants to enter the EU and is welcomed there, then we can only be pleased," Putin said, speaking after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

"The issues of EU enlargement to include Ukraine does not concern us," he said.

The statement was a marked contrast to several weeks of often harsh rhetoric from Putin, who has been incensed by the West's role in the disputed election in Ukraine.

Russia fears Ukraine could tilt further away from its sphere of influence and more toward the West should opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko be elected president.

"We have a special relationship with Ukraine, economies that are closely interlinked, a very high degree of industrial cooperation," Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax. "So the inclusion of that part of our economy in the European structure would, I hope, have a positive effect on Russia as well."

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