When I went to Moscow, I used a visa company to get the visa. It seems to be worth it — some of them charge relatively small fees and they do all the work for you. I suspect if you were to book your ticket, go to the airport and get a printout of the itinerary, it would work. Give yourself a little extra time for the contingency that it won't work, and don't book any hotels or other stuff until you actually get the visa. If you don't get it, change the buddy pass to another destination for $25 bucks. I think Ukraine doesn't require a visa any longer — you could always fly there, then go overland to Russia, if you still wanted to. Visas are a huge turn off!