Russian president Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma Friday. According to the Kremlin press service, the two leaders expressed satisfaction with the signing of the 2002 Protocol on the Russo-Ukrainian agreement stipulating additional measures providing Russian gas transit via Ukrainian territory. The presidents stressed that the conclusion of this Protocol must become an important step towards settling the gas problem in bilateral relations. Putin also briefed Kuchma on the first session of the organisational committee in charge of the Year of Ukraine in Russia. The session resulted in working out a plan of major events, which the president will submit for consideration by Ukrainian partners. The two leaders have discussed separate practical issues of Russo-Ukrainian cooperation. Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma also exchanged New Year congratulations.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea