Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday signed a series of important accords with Ukraine’s new leadership as he paid his first official visit to Kiev.
The accords, including one on using a Russian satellite navigation system in Ukraine, were signed after the third meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian interstate commission in Kiev.
“This is only the beginning,” Medvedev told a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych after talks.
The two nations also signed a border demarcation agreement, but delayed a decision on the delineation of the disputed sea border. Medvedev said the talks were productive because “we have finally found a true Ukrainian partner” capable of making decisions and implementing them. Under a new deal, National banks in both countries will coordinate fiscal policy and possibly currency market interventions. Three joint resolutions signed by the two presidents set out common positions on Black Sea security, European security and the Transnistria conflict.
Transnistria is a disputed territory with separatist ambitions in Moldova, but is not recognized as a sovereign country by the international community. The agreements continue a dramatic reverse to past Russ- Ukrainian government relations which began after Yanukovych took office in February. Yanukovych said the presidents agreed that their new-found friendship would not be used to gang up against other countries. ” All decisions will be taken to protect our national interests,” he said.
Monday’s talks were watched for signs of progress on Russia’s proposal to merge the assets of its state gas monopoly, Gazprom, and Ukraine’s Naftogaz. The proposal from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has sparked criticism from the Ukrainian opposition, which saw it as an attempt by Moscow to wrest control over the country’s most valuable industrial asset. Yanukovych said the merger should leave two sides with equal stakes in the new company, defying Russia’s demand for control. No agreement on the merger was signed during Medvedev’s trip, but Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said talks on the issue are continuing. He told reporters that Gazprom would fully modernize Ukraine’s aging gas transportation system if the merger took place.
On the same day, several hundred Ukrainian nationalists held a brief protest against the pro-Russia policy of Ukraine’s new leadership. Medvedev arrive in Kiev on Monday for a two-day official visit to Ukraine.