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MOSCOW, February 13 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Nizhny Novgorod, where he will attend a meeting of the subcommittee for international cooperation under the Russian-Ukrainian interstate commission on February 14.
As the co-chairs of the subcommittee Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Konstantin Grishchenko will discuss a broad range of issues in bilateral relations and international agenda. “The ministers will focus on the cooperation in the struggle against new challenges and threats in various formats, the settlement of regional conflicts, cooperation between the consular services,” a diplomatic source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “The negotiators will consider border problems, including the progress of the negotiations on the delimitation in the Azov and Black Seas, the Kerch Strait,” the Russian diplomatic source said.
The cold winter, which is reigning in Europe, made the gas issue acute again in bilateral relations. The ministers can discuss this issue as well. Ukraine as the Russian gas transit country to Europe takes 60 billion cubic meters of gas at the annual level that is much more than is stipulated in the contract. Meanwhile, Ukraine states more and more frequently about the intentions to revise the agreement with the Russian gas major Gazprom, and, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, the country is already searching actively for alternative fuel suppliers.
Meanwhile, the expert community takes such statements sceptically. President of the Russian Gas Society Valery Yazev believes that Ukraine will not find the substitution for the natural resources from Russia, because the natural resource base of the suppliers in the regions of the Caspian and Black Seas is doubtful. Yazev believes that lower prices for Ukraine are probable if the country joins the Customs Union, the Common Economic Space, while Kiev is more inclined to European integration.
On the sidelines of the subcommittee meeting Russian State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Ruslan Demchenko will meet. They are in charge of the functioning of the Black Sea Fleet in the subcommittee.
In Nizhny Novgorod the ministers are expected to adopt a statement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and sign a plan for the cooperation between the Foreign Ministries of the countries for 2012.
Meanwhile, the ministers will attend a ceremony to open the Ukrainian General Consulate in the city.
On the cultural agenda is a ceremony to lay down flowers to the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky and the memorial plaque to Taras Shevchenko, a photo exhibition, which is dedicated to the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Russia “intends to hold a forthcoming meeting in a traditionally cordial atmosphere, have a constructive dialogue and the joint search for balanced mutually acceptable decisions on topical issues of mutual interest,” the Russian diplomatic source underlined.