Presidents Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma debated the agenda of, and preparations for a Russian-Ukrainian business conference, due in Ukraine's Kharkov, December 14. Both presidents will attend. Aerospace, processing industries and certain other fields of partnership will be in the conference foreground, says Sergei Prikhodko, second in charge of the Kremlin staff. Today's summitry revolved round commercial and other practical economic contacts--in particular, in gas export/import. The Russian top is more optimistic about it now that Ukraine's parliament has ratified a package of bilateral agreements on it. Practical levers for progress are now available, and that matters most, holds the Russian cabinet. Victor Khristenko, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister, was attending today's summit to give necessary explanations to the presidents. Vladimir Putin gave him instructions concerning further contacts with Ukrainian partners. Russia proceeds in its gas export policies from guaranteeing a sufficient amount of fuel to Ukraine, who ought to pay in kind by offering its land for unhampered Russian gas transits to Western Europe, says Sergei Prikhodko.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea