The Russian President also sent a telegram to Mr Kuchma, which said, in part:
“Russia greatly appreciates your significant contribution to the strengthening of bilateral multi-faceted cooperation, friendship and understanding between our peoples. For centuries Russia and Ukraine have been linked by close political, economic and cultural ties, and shared a deep historical and spiritual closeness. And today the steady progress of our cooperation confirms that Russian-Ukrainian relations will continue to develop on the basis of good-neighbourliness, equality and mutual assistance.
“I am confident that by joining efforts we will manage to do all that is needed for the steady implementation of the principles of strategic partnership between Russia and Ukraine and to promote its further multi-faceted development benefitting the two peoples and in the interests of world stability and security.”