Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Kyiv for a working visit and talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko and other leaders.
Mr. Yushchenko says he plans to discuss Ukraine's desire to join NATO with Mr. Putin, saying Kyiv's cooperation with the Western military alliance is in no way intended to jeopardize Russian interests.
The two leaders also are expected to consider other issues, including Russian fuel sales to Ukraine.
President Putin is also expected to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych during his one-day visit.
Thursday, Mr. Yushchenko said Ukraine will always be Russia's friend despite any problems in bilateral ties. He told the Interfax news agency that relations with Moscow have become more practical in recent years.
The Ukrainian leader also said he would like to see more cooperation between the two governments, and in the humanitarian and social areas.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been chilly since Mr. Yushchenko's election in 2004 and his efforts to expand ties to the West.
Russia also temporarily cut natural gas deliveries to Ukraine last January when Ukraine initially refused to pay a sharp increase in the price.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.