Clinton says Russia v. West is false choice for Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that forcing Ukraine to choose between Russia and the West offered a “false choice” and she urged Kiev to forge good relations with both sides.

“Some have tried to force Ukraine into a choice between aligning your country with Russia or with the West: we believe that is a false choice,” she said at a news conference with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

She added that Kiev should continue to forge good relations with Russia while also building “close and constructive” relations with the West.

Clinton was visiting the ex-Soviet republic following a flurry of pro-Russian moves by Yanukovich, who was elected last February ousting a pro-Western leadership.

Clinton hailed his election this year as a major step in consolidating democracy in Ukraine, but she urged the Kiev government to safeguard “critical liberties”, including media freedom.

Writing by Richard Balmforth