Ukraine and Russia Establish New Pillars of Bilateral Cooperation
Kyiv, September 18, 2011. Ukraine and Russia signed a number of bilateral documents in the course of the Interregional Economic Forum in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine, attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The parties, among other things, signed an Agreement on simplifying crossing the border between the two countries for the residents of the border area, and discussed the energy sector.
The Agreement on cross-border cooperation will simplify the procedure of crossing the border for Russian and Ukrainians citizens, who live in the border area; the estimated number of such people reaches up to 30 million citizens on both sides of the border. Speaking of economic cooperation before the beginning of the Forum, Presidents Medvedev and Yanukovych discussed a future project for building a bridge across the Kerch Strait in the Azov sea, connecting the two countries. Such a bridge would make it more convenient for the citizens of the southern regions of the two countries to cross the border as well as increase traffic of goods between the two states.
The parties also held a discussion on strengthening scientific and technical cooperation, industrial cooperation, transport, environmental protection, and cooperation in the energy sector, which gained substantial momentum in recent months. During the meeting both presidents also focused on the forthcoming CIS summit, which is to be held in Moscow in December, investment and humanitarian cooperation, and interaction in hi-tech areas. In addition, the parties discussed joint projects in the area of aircraft building and space exploration, namely An-70 and Dnipro missile programs. According to Serhiy Prykhodko, the aide to the Russian President, 19 regions of the Russian Federation account for nearly 90 percent of bilateral trade between Russia and Ukraine, reaching USD 33 billion in January – August 2011.
In recent months the world audience witnessed increased tension in relations between Ukraine and Russia mainly due to the gas price disputes. Russian-Ukrainian cooperation, however, demonstrates a steady growth despite any disputes, according to Prykhodko.
The Interregional Economic Forum is becoming a traditional event for the two countries. The main objective of the forum is promoting scientific and technical cooperation between the regions and interregional industrial cooperation. The first Forum took place on October 4, 2010, in Gelendzhyk, Russia, the third forum is scheduled for 2012 in Russia.