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    RUSSIA NEEDS UKRAINE STRONG, AND VICE VERSE: PUTIN

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    KIEV, JANUARY 23 (RIA Novosti correspondent Oleg Osipov) - Russia needs Ukraine strong, and the other way round, said President Vladimir Putin while addressing a closing gala of Russia Year in Ukraine.

    Russia is taking sincere pride in Ukraine as it is making economic progress and improving its positions on the international stage, stressed Mr. Putin.

    Russia and Ukraine have inherited many problems from the past. They might have seemed beyond solution, but the two countries are certainly able to settle them, he reassured.

    The two preceding years have sent the bilateral trade turnover 30 per cent up, and even greater progress can be expected, added Russia's President.

    Major joint projects are in blueprints, and understandings have been made to open ever new vistas in Russo-Ukrainian business contacts. Bilateral strategic partnership has always been making both countries stronger as they get out of trials and tribulations, and achieve success, he emphatically said.

    "We have much more to do together. This is not a simple job-but the vital and noble cause meets both nations' aspirations," said Vladimir Putin.

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