The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, has granted a $5.4-million loan to the St. Petersburg Sea Port Authority to complete a modern navigation system to make the Gulf of Finland safer for the growing amount of shipping traffic in the region - particularly traffic carrying oil. The five-year loan is guaranteed by the federal government and will be spent on constructing steel radar towers and communications equipment, to be installed on the islands of Gogland, Sommers and Seskar, which are all located in the gulf. "This will allow us to monitor ships in the area up to the [Finnish-Russian] border, and we plan to integrate our system with those operating in Estonia, Finland and Sweden, so that we will be able to monitor the entire area," said Andrei Markelov, the St. Petersburg Sea Port Authority spokesperson, in a telephone interview on Monday. When completed, the $9.3-million system will be able to monitor ships on their way to and from St. Petersburg's port and other ports in the gulf, including the new Baltic oil terminal at Primorsk, about 110 kilometers northwest of St. Petersburg. Markelov said the St. Petersburg Sea Port became the leading harbor for cargo handling in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland last year, with the amount of cargo handled jumping by 4.3 million tons in 2002, an increase of over 10 percent on the year before. A total of 11,234 vessels delivered and shipped away a total of 41.3 million tons. The port is forecasting an almost 50-percent increase in turnover by 2010, with a figure of 60 million tons being projected for that year, the Saint Petersburg Times wrote.
Russian officials have repeatedly declared that Israeli aviation poses a threat to the Russian military in Syria.