Russia and Ukraine ready to start long-term cooperation - Ukrainian PM© RIA Novosti. Alexey Druzhinin
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Russia and Ukraine are ready to move ahead with a new stage in long-term cooperation, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday.
The Vedomosti business daily said Russia will seek to use the momentum created by a deal with Ukraine extending the stay of its naval base in Crimea for a discount on gas prices to forge new long-term partnerships in the air industry, energy and nuclear sectors with Kiev.
A deal extending the lease on a Russian base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol for 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017 was ratified on Tuesday by the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments. In return for the lease, which may be further extended by five years, Ukraine will receive a 30% discount on Russian natural gas that is equal to $40 billion.
On Friday Russia and Ukraine will hold intergovernmental talks to discuss possible joint projects.
"The first Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission for two years will be held on Friday," Mykola Azarov said, adding Ukraine that was willing to renew "a large-scale partnership with Russia"
Azarov also called for all Ukrainian government bodies and ministries to make concrete proposals ahead of the commission the meeting.
"We are ready for everything at once," the Vedomosti daily quoted on Wednesday the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as saying about Russia's intentions.
Putin has proposed creating a holding company "incorporating production, nuclear engineering, the fuel cycle, and operations in the nuclear fuel sector".
Russia and Ukraine provide each other with nuclear fuel, so it will be easier to modernize the joint nuclear sector and expand it to the foreign market.
Russia is also ready to launch into a partnership with Ukraine in the air and shipbuilding spheres.
"If Ukrainian experts regard the proposal as too revolutionary, we are ready to work step-by-step," Vedomosti quoted Putin as saying.
The Russian premier also said the gas discount for Ukraine will seriously affect Russia's GDP, causing the budget deficit to grow.
Vedomosti said the joint Russian-Ukrainian projects will only be successful if Ukraine guarantees the inviolability of Russian companies' shares and does not illegally withdraw Russian gas from pipelines. Ukraine will not be allowed to export Russian gas to other countries.
The Ukrainian authorities were more than succinct over Russia's proposals.
"The proposals are interesting," Vedomosti quoted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as saying.
The opposition was, however, furious.
"They are preparing surrender the whole [Ukrainian] nuclear industry," the paper quoted the leader of the Ukrainian opposition, Yulia Timoshenko, as saying.
KIEV, April 28 (RIA Novosti)
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.