Prime Minister John Key has been holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Apec summit in Vladivostok.
At the top of the agenda was pushing forward talks on a free trade deal between New Zealand and Russia.
Key also said he was very keen to hear Russia's point of view on Syria and what they are doing to block US attempts to bring in sanctions targeted at the regime, and why.
He said New Zealand was very much aligned with America's position on Syria.
Before their meeting, Key said he was unlikely to bring up human rights and the two-year prison sentences given to three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
They were sentenced for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred over a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February asking the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.
The sentences drew sharp criticism from Western governments who said the musicians should not be jailed.
Key will get to rub shoulders and talk trade deals with a number of other world leaders as the Apec summit gets fully underway.
There are also likely to be opportunities for the Prime Minister to talk informally to other big players such as China's Hu Jintao and the US's Hillary Clinton.
Key confirmed there will be no meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership members at the Apec forum given that US President Obama is not in attendance.
Also missing the forum is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who cut short her visit to Vladivostok because of the death of her father. Her place is being taken by Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who was already at the summit.
The TPP free trade deal involves New Zealand, the US and nine other Apec nations.
Progress on the deal has slowed somewhat lately with the US pre-occupied with its presidential elections, although all indications are that the deal is still on track to be signed sometime next year.
The pressure is building though to get a deal done as there are rival Pacific free trade deals emerging in competition to the TPP.
The Association of South East Asian Nations or ASEAN is looking at a deal involving China and a number of other Asia Pacific nations, while reportedly Putin is also looking at cobbling together a new proposal for a rival deal involving Russia and other Asian nations.
All this feeds into Apec's overall goal of a over aching free trade deal which involves all 21 nations that are in Vladivostok this weekend.
"The holy grail of trade deals for this region if you like. However any hope of that happening anytime soon looks doubtful," says ONE News political editor Corin Dann.
"So, there is plenty for John Key to sink his teeth into over the next couple of days."
The best hope of something tangible for New Zealand this weekend will come from Key's talks with Putin.
It's possible that if things go well there may be some kind of timetable released for a signing of a FTA between New Zealand and Russia - perhaps the end of the year or early next year. But Key says that will depend on the will of Putin.
Such a commitment from Russia would be a good sign given the stumbling blocks over farm subsidies and the fact talks were supposed to have been completed by now.