Russia and Ukraine have fulfilled themselves as strong and influential European democracies, President Vladimir Putin said to a gala gathering tonight as Ukraine Year was opening in Russia. The greatest possible promotion of public and business initiatives is Ukraine Year's main goal now that Russia is discovering for itself a new Ukraine, and the other way round. The two countries are taking stock of each other's achievements and problems, and are willing to tackle those problems together. Both countries stand to gain with technological, economic and cultural partnership. They largely share an infrastructure, while rapid progress of public contacts and business ties promise them spectacular gains. Ukraine Year is sure to give another impetus to bilateral relations, said President Putin.