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PUTIN SAYS UKRAINIAN TIES HAVE IMPROVED. In an interview with Ukrainian television in advance of his meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 12 February, Russian President Putin said that the two of them "managed to do the main thing last year -- we changed the quality of relations. Frankly speaking," he continued, "I think this was one of the main achievements of Russian diplomacy last year," ITAR-TASS reported. PG