Thaw in Russia-Ukraine relations
Sunday, 8 May, 2005,
BBC On-line

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine have agreed in Moscow to set up a joint commission to examine sensitive issues between their countries.
Russian-Ukrainian ties were strained during Ukraine's December "orange revolution," which saw pro-western liberal Viktor Yushchenko triumph.

Mr Yushchenko's presidential rival Viktor Yanukovych was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Leaders of ex-Soviet republics were hosted by Mr Putin in Moscow on Sunday.

The new Russia-Ukraine commission will look at security, economic co-operation, international relations and humanitarian issues, the Interfax news agency reported.

The two neighbours remain divided over boundaries and the Soviet-era Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea.

CIS tensions

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow says rifts were all too apparent at the summit of the 12-nation Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - the association of ex-Soviet republics.

Mr Putin recalled the countries' huge contribution to the defeat of Nazism - and called on their presidents to continue to unite against terrorism.

But two countries were not even represented.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is boycotting the World War II victory events in Moscow, angry that Russia is delaying closing its Soviet-era military bases in Georgia.

And Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev also stayed away, saying he could not sit at the same table with Armenia's leader on 8 May - the date of a key battle in the 1988-1994 war over the still disputed territory of Nagorno-Karakbakh.