Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, believes that in economic terms this union is a basis for restoring post-Soviet space. He said this on Tuesday, replying to a question about how the Union's budget is formed. The state secretary said that the Belarussian side had contributed this year only 26 per cent of the union's budget. Even so, according to him, solution for this problem will be found. Borodin also quoted statistics showing that return of earlier issued credits within the Union in 2002 will be something like 700 million roubles (1 US dollar is equal to 30 roubles). Next year about 700 million roubles will be allocated to finance new Union programmes. Speaking of the 2002 budget of the Union, Borodin reported that it will be 3.3 billion roubles. This compares, Borodin said, with the budget of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is 260 million roubles, and the budget of the Eurasian Economic Community, which is 70 million roubles. As Borodin said, the Union's Council of Ministers is to meet on December 25. Its agenda contains 20 items, the main one of which is to consider introduction of a common instrument of payment.
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