MOSCOW, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday Russia and Ukraine should make concerted efforts to boost relations.
During a meeting of the inter-government commission with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovich, Putin said the time had come to undertake "active measures" to create conditions for bilateral ties.
Russia and Ukraine could cooperate in such fields as energy, machine-building, space and aviation, he said.
"Today, we've got all the chances to create and strengthen the legal base (of cooperation), and to create all the conditions for trade and economic links between Russia and Ukraine," Putin said.
Yanukovich agreed bilateral cooperation required "urgent intervention" and coordination with other member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a regional association of former Soviet republics founded in 1991.
"A free trade zone must start working in full," he said, citing the tough economic situation of many Ukrainian enterprises which would need to become joint ventures with Russian businesses.
Ukraine, with a heavy 134-billion-U.S. dollar external debt, is struggling to keep its economy going.
The Russia-Ukraine inter-government commission was founded in May 2005 by Putin and then Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko. Tuesday's meeting came amid widespread protests in Ukraine since the end of November over Kiev's decision to pull out from a trade and association agreement with the European Union (EU).
Russia was cautious about the enlargement ambition of the 28-member bloc, which is competing with Moscow for the future of its eastern neighbors.
Last week, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said the EU is standing ready to help and support Ukraine, adding the bloc is also willing to use its dialogue with Russia to clarify that the agreement with Ukraine will not harm Russia's economic interests.
During a visit to Kiev, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton also called on Ukrainian authorities to establish an open dialogue with society to ease the escalating political crisis.
Ukraine's talks with EU over partnership deal still under way
KIEV, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Negotiations with the European Union (EU) over a landmark partnership deal are still under way, said an official on Monday.
"Although the parties have not yet signed the deal, the talks over it are going on," Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Olefirov told reporters. Full story