Russia welcomes Israel’s decision to free Palestinian prisoners; Russia and Saudi Arabia discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues; Vostochny Cosmodrome to become functional in 2015; President Putin supports the idea of building long term ship buil
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  • According to reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement has welcomed Israel’s decision to free a group of Palestinian prisoners and hoped that the Palestinian-Israeli talks in Washington will end successfully. 1

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has met the Prince of Saudi Arabia, Secretary-General of the National Security Council and Chief of the Saudi Intelligence Bandar Bin Sultan in his residence on July 31, 2013. A broad range of issues in bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa were discussed in the meeting. 2

    The Head of Roskosmos Vladimir Popovkin has said that the first launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome is due in 2015. The cosmodrome is expected to shift a significant amount of operations from the Baikonur cosmodrome which Russia has currently taken on lease from Kazakhstan. 3

    President Vladimir Putin has supported the idea of planning ship-building projects for 30 years ahead instead of the current 10 years. This should help in long term strategic planning as well as cutting down costs of the total defence budget4

    Russia and the European Union have held the first consultations on July 30, 2013 on Russia’s levy on imported cars, in compliance with the EU complaint lodged with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The talks also involved representatives of the United States, Japan, China, Ukraine and Turkey. 5

    In other developments, according to reports, Russia’s 31st airborne assault brigade has held a military exercise in Kyrgyzstan which involved protection and defence of Russian military installations in case of possible deterioration of security as a result of scheduled withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014. 6

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon have held widespread discussions in Moscow on August 1, 2013. Some issues discussed included duty-free supplies of Russian oil products, military-technical assistance in the modernisation of the Tajikistani army and the timing of the ratification of the interstate agreement on Russia’s 201st military base. 7

    Russia’s Federal Customs Service has announced that Russia will no longer recognize a UN convention (TIR Convention) that established an international customs transit system aimed at speeding up the movement of goods from August 14. This has raised the spectre of import hassles at customs although rationale behind the decision has not been explained. TIR provides for simplified customs procedures by allowing goods to be sealed in the country of origin and to pass through customs again in the country of destination. In transit countries, customs officials are provided with a document from a booklet that entitles the transit country to customs duties. 8