Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma earlier in the day to congratulate him on his 65th birthday.
He also sent Kuchma a message of congratulations, in which he wrote, in part: "Russia sets great store by your contribution to every aspect of bilateral cooperation and the deepening of friendship and mutual understanding between our nations.
"Russia and Ukraine have centuries-old political, economic and cultural ties, a sort of deep historical and spiritual intimacy. The positive dynamics of our relationship which we see today proves that Russian-Ukrainian relations will always be based on good-neighborly feelings, equality and mutual help.
"No doubt our joint effort will promote the principles of strategic partnership between Russia and Ukraine and ensure its comprehensive development in the interests of the two countries' peoples and in the interests of security and stability worldwide."