Question: More and more high-ranking representatives of Russia and Ukraine have been meeting of late, including at the highest level. What is behind this flurry of activity in relations between the two countries?
Vladimir Putin (in a follow-up to what Leonid Kuchma said): This is due to the understanding that cooperation benefits both the two countries and the individual citizens of Ukraine and Russia. Mr Kuchma proposed that the Ukrainian and Russian navies hold a joint naval review on Navy Day in Sevastopol and invited us to take part, which we will gladly do.
Question: Political relations between our countries are visibly improving. How do you think this can have an impact on economic relations?
Vladimir Putin: Our co-production is very extensive. In some branches it makes up as much as 80% to 90% of all production. In separate sectors, this figure applies to Ukraine, in others, to Russia. Our enterprises receive a vast number of components from Ukrainian factories, and vice versa.
We also cooperate heavily in energy. This year Ukraine is fulfilling all its commitments and we look forward to further progress on international agreements. We also share common energy plans for Europe, with Ukraine to act as an independent partner to provide transport facilities and Russia to supply the product itself.
We cooperate successfully in high technologies, although today President Kuchma called my attention to the fact that there was still a lot to be done together and that many opportunities had been missed. In space, for example, our cooperation is good, but in aircraft building there are things worth pondering and areas where we could intensify our efforts for the benefit of both countries.
There are also other areas of direct importance for consumers. In the final analysis this must lead and is already leading to an enhancement in the effectiveness of the two economies and to improved standards of living for the population. That is the main point.