Putin wants 'constructive' Poland ties after Duda presidential win

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called for "constructive ties" with Poland as he congratulated conservative challenger Andrzej Duda on his surprise victory at presidential polls.

The Russian leader expressed hope that "the building of constructive ties between Russia and Poland, based on the principles of good neighbourly relations and a mutual respect for each other's interests, would help strengthen security and stability in Europe", the Kremlin said.

Relations between Moscow and Warsaw - historically complicated - are in the doldrums as Poland has been one of the fiercest critics of Russia over its alleged meddling in Ukraine.

The European Union - of which Poland is a member - and the United States have slapped sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, with Moscow hitting back with embargoes on Western agricultural produce.

An MEP and lawyer with a populist streak, Duda scored a stunning turnaround to oust incumbent centrist leader Bronislaw Komorowski with 53 per cent of the vote, according to exit polls.

The devout Catholic was close to the late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a 2010 plane crash in Russia, and calls himself his "spiritual heir".

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia's Interfax news agency that the Kremlin always wants to have good relations "unencumbered by stereotypes" with nearby countries, including Poland.