Russia to triple uranium production in next two years; Russia and Iranian Presidents holds talks over the upcoming Syrian dialogue; Russia to be Ukraine’s sole gas provider; Ukrainian Prime Minister calls for a strong industrial cooperation with Russia; R
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  • According to reports, Russia will nearly triple its production of natural uranium in the next two years. Russia has been producing some 3,000-3,200 metric tons of uranium annually over the last few years. 1

    Reports noted that President Vladimir Putin has spoken, over the phone, with his counterpart in Iran, on January 9, about Tehran’s nuclear program and the upcoming Geneva 2 international peace conference. 2

    According to reports, Ukraine’s energy minister has said that Ukraine has ceased buying gas from Europe and will instead purchase the fuel solely from Russia, since it offers the lowest prices. In the past, Ukraine has bought gas from Poland and Hungary and was close to striking another gas deal with Slovakia in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian supplies. 3

    According to reports, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has called for a strong industrial cooperation with Russia. He further stated that it was necessary for “the free trade area in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) to keep working” as its importance for the Ukrainian economy “could hardly be overestimated.” 4

    Reports noted that Russia has blocked a UK led effort at the United Nations aimed at condemning air strikes carried out by the Syrian government on its own cities. The British proposal expressed “outrage” at Assad’s targeting of civilians in an ongoing bombardment of the city of Aleppo. 5

    According to reports, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has met with the leader of Syria’s National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, Ahmad al-Jarba, in Paris on January 12. They discussed the developments in Syria. 6

    Reports noted that Syria’s ministry of education will introduce classes in the Russian language in the secondary school curriculum as a second foreign language. Fifth grade schoolchildren will be offered to choose either Russian or French. 7

    According to reports, Cyprus has allowed Russian military aircraft to use the military airbase near Paphos, as well as opened Limassol port to its naval vessels. Although an agreement is yet to be signed, Cyprus Defence Minister Fotis Fotiouhad had submitted a proposal in which initially the base will be limited to aircraft for humanitarian and emergency situations. However, the Russian air force will not be allowed to use storage facilities at the base. 8

    According to reports, Russian Foreign Ministry has come out with a statement which said it supports Iraq’s policy of counteracting extremism, offered practical assistance and condemned terrorism in all its manifestations. It further stated that the current upsurge of violence in Iraq has religious roots and is linked with the developments in Syria. 9

    According to reports, Estonian PM’s advisor Ants Laaneots has stated that deployment of U.S military forces near the Russian border will not benefit good-neighbourly relations and bring about unnecessary tensions. 10

    According to reports, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the government to prepare legislative amendments on taxation of companies in offshore jurisdictions if they do not share their income with Russian officials who control them. He also called for drafting legislative amendments that would make government support unavailable to such companies and would prohibit public or municipal contracts with them. This is part of President Putin’s de-offshorization drive. 11

    In other developments, Reports noted that Naftogaz of Ukraine and the Russia’s Gazprom have signed an additional agreement to the 2009 deal under which Ukraine will pay US$ 268.5 for one thousand cubic meters of Russian gas. 12

    Reports noted that U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has held consultations in Moscow on January 10. The two sides discussed the preparation of the international conference on Syria as well as the implementation of agreements on Iran. 13

    According to reports, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved the list of 1,007 organizations which will be transferred to the Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO). FASO will be in charge of federal state organizations which were under the jurisdiction of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences. FASO will have functions and powers as the owner of the federal property of the organizations and as their founder. These measures are aimed at improving work efficiency of the organizations, and it is one of the steps to implement the law on the RAS reorganization. 14

    According to reports, Russian security forces have launched an anti-terrorism sweep in response to the discovery of an explosive device and an unexplained series of deaths across a southern province near Sochi, which is hosting the Winter Olympics next month. 15