Russia welcomes Ukraine's decision to set up a high-level group to improve bilateral ties, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
"Any realistic steps and measures aimed at developing and advancing Russian-Ukrainian ties should be welcomed," Andrei Nesterenko said in a commentary posted on the website of the ministry.
Moscow would be "closely watching all practical actions by our Ukrainian partners," he said.
The spokesman also reiterated Moscow's desire for constructive, pragmatic and responsible cooperation with Kiev.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has decided to form a strategic group for relations with Russia amid the financial crisis. The group will be led by the National Security Council chief and will also include other security officials, cabinet members, and the head of Naftogaz, the national oil and gas company.
"We must do everything to make relations with Russia rational," Yushchenko was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying on Monday.
Relations between the former Soviet republics have soured in recent years over a series of issues, ranging from Ukraine's bid to join NATO to Russia's Black Sea Fleet base in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.