OREANDA-NEWS. December 21, 2011. Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:  Mykola Azarov: Good evening, Mr Putin.
Vladimir Putin: Night...

Mykola Azarov: Good night, then. It’s night-time here, but it’s still evening in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: There always has been something of the night about you. Please have a seat.

Mr Azarov, first of all, I would like to say that bilateral trade and economic relations are developing rather well. It appears that Russian-Ukrainian trade for 2011 will reach USD 50 billion, and that exceeds the pre-crisis level. Consequently, Ukraine ranks a confident fourth among Russia’s major trade and economic partners after China, the Netherlands and Germany.

To the best of my knowledge, Russian investment in Ukraine exceeded USD 1 billion this year, totalling USD 1.1 billion. At the same time, Ukraine has invested about USD 225 million in the Russian economy. But we realise that this is a very small amount. As far as investment is concerned on both sides we are looking at very small amounts. And, of course, we need to think about how to expand these mutual investment flows.

Of course, we must continue to work on the energy sector, expanding it and suggesting various development options in this area. We have had opportunities to talk before, and we are talking here today. We have a great deal to discuss. Our colleagues are in constant contact.

Mykola Azarov: Yes, that’s correct.

Vladimir Putin: Yury (Ukraine’s Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Boiko), wanted to sit on our side.

Mykola Azarov: He’s disorientated.

Vladimir Putin: I get the feeling that Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller will soon join your lot. I’m basically glad to see you. We’ll have a good conversation.

Mykola Azarov: Thank you, Mr Putin. I’m also glad to see you. I am sure you must be tired after such a long flight.

Vladimir Putin: No, I’m not tired.

Mykola Azarov: Where were you?

Vladimir Putin: Chechnya.

Mykola Azarov: In Chechnya? That’s not all that close.

Vladimir Putin: But it’s not all that far either. Yesterday I was in Russia’s Far East. It’s minus 37 degrees Celsius there.

Mykola Azarov: We are also happy about how bilateral relations are developing.

Indeed, Ukrainian-Russian trade continues to expand, and many programmes are being implemented. You rightly noted that we still have lots to accomplish in the sphere of investment, to attract your investment to us (we always welcome it, incidentally, and don’t put up any obstacles to it) and of course our investment.

Of course, the issue that refuses to give our energy agency heads any sleep – they’re working day and night, as we say, to regulate it – is something we view as crucial. We are ready to seek compromise solutions, but first of all, this implies mutually beneficial solutions from which both Russia and Ukraine would profit. Therefore I hope that our conversation today will facilitate the search for a final agreement. Although it is late, it will yield positive results.