OREANDA-NEWS. June 28, 2010. Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that a certain quick response style had evolved between Russia and Ukraine. “The quality of our relations has changed drastically. In effect, we are reaching pre-crisis trade levels. This is a very good sign,” the Russian prime minister noted.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Azarov, I'm very happy to see you. Welcome.

As you can see, a certain quick response style has evolved between us. We exchange information on current issues over the telephone and also meet more often. This is a sure, at least outwardly, indication of the fact that the quality of our relations has changed drastically. Naturally, this concerns more than just defence-and-security cooperation issues. I'm referring to the extension of the agreement on the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea. The situation is improving in many areas, and not just with gas. Certainly, this is linked with the post-crisis recovery. Last year, the bilateral trade had plunged from USD 40 billion to just over USD 22 billion. But it has soared two-fold in the first four months of 2010. In effect, we are attaining pre-crisis trade levels. This is a very good sign.

As usual, and given this increased volume of bilateral cooperation, we hope to review numerous current issues. I'm very happy to see you.

Mykola Azarov: Thank you very much, Mr Putin. You have noted absolutely correctly that, given such a large volume of expanding bilateral cooperation, various issues requiring intervention by state leaders accumulate all the time. Such intervention is called on to expedite and promote our cooperation.

Naturally, the unprecedented trade growth you mentioned is the result of primarily political normalisation. Although our relations have had their ups and downs, they primarily aimed to promote long-term bilateral cooperation. As you have noted, this should be genuine strategic cooperation, both outwardly and inwardly. This, of course, implies that our relations are developing normally.