While addressing the cabinet of ministers on Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the year 2001 was certainly successful as far as Russia's relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States and the European Union were concerned. Summing up the year 2001, he said Russia had managed to solve a number of problems in its relations with CIS countries and finally settle the gas issue between itself and Ukraine. Apart from that, Russia and Belarus have hit on a scheme that they expect to bring them closer together. In the first quarter of 2002, the two countries will enter into an agreement on mutual rapprochement, which is expected to make the union of Russia and Belarus more effective. Outside the CIS, Russia did much to streamline cooperation with the European Union and get closer to becoming a member of the World Trade Organisation.