The interests of Russia and Venezuela in the oil sphere virtually coincide, said Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, in connection with the visit to Caracas by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, which started on Friday. According to Yakovenko, the two countries' experts maintain working contacts in order to promote the Russian-Venezuelan cooperation in the world oil market. "The oil contacts gained a paramount importance after Venezuela, one of the OPEC founders, became its presiding country in 2000." Russia is currently an observer with this organization, Yakovenko pointed out. A number of commercial projects are being implemented. According to Yakovenko, the Russian Alfa group is supplying oil and oil products to Europe by commitments of a Venezuelan state oil corporation. In addition, talks are being held on the Russian involvement in the development of Venezuelan oil and gas deposits, bauxite extraction and aluminium industry reconstruction.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart