KIEV, June 19 - Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said Tuesday he will soon meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss trade and other important issues between the two countries.
Yanukovych said the meeting with Putin will follow a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov within the special bilateral commission that had been earlier scheduled.
â€śIn spite of the fact that some politicians try to aggravate our relations [with Russia], I am confident that we are doomed to live in peace and friendship,â€ť Yanukovych said at a press conference.
Yanukovych, regarded by many in Ukraine as a pro-Russian leader, has been seeking to postpone Ukraineâ€™s accession to NATO, which Moscow views as a military threat.
The differences in foreign policy between Yanukovych and President Viktor Yushchenko, regarded as a pro-Western leader, have triggered a major political crisis in Ukraine. Yushchenko and Yanukovych agreed to end the crisis by holding the early parliamentary election on Sept. 30.
Yanukovych said that he had already discussed with Yushchenko the upcoming meeting with Putin, and said they had a similar vision on the future of Ukrainian-Russian relations.
â€śWe have common vision and priorities that we should protect state interests,â€ť Yanukovych said. â€śThe information that I have from the president [Yushchenko] is optimistic.â€ť
Yanukovych said earlier that Ukraine will seek concessions from Russia on natural gas prices to be charged next year.
Yanukovych said that Ukraine will work with â€śits partners to secure a compromise in setting gas prices.â€ť
Ukraine is currently buying gas at $135 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from $95 in 2006, but analysts have warned that Russia may be considering a major gas price hike starting in 2008.
Yanukovych last year indicated that Russia may seek to charge Ukraine $230 per 1,000 cu m in 2008, but his comments on Thursday suggest that his government will try to secure a better price.
Economy Minister Anatoliy Kinakh suggested earlier this week that Ukraine would try to secure a more moderate price of $140 to $144 per 1,000 cu m. (nr/ez)