Talks between Serbia, Kosovo and the European Union to improve relations between Belgrade and Pristina produced no results. Serbia has been pitched into the dilemma of either terminating support for the de-facto independence of Kosovo Serbs or dropping its European integration ambitions. According to Kommersant, Belgrade will make a decision after the Serbian premier’s visit to Moscow scheduled for April 10.
For the first time since the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, the country’s air force has launched an airstrike on the Gaza territory. According to Palestinian news agency Maan, Israeli air forces hit “a target in an agriculture region” and “an asphalt factory.” Israel maintains that it struck missile-producing facilities. The Israeli Defense Forces said they destroyed “two terrorist objects” in northern Gaza.
Russia’s Deputy Communications Minister Denis Sverdlov was appointed chief designer of the State Automated System "Vybory" (Elections).
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
The United States said that in case of an armed conflict between North and South Korea, its troops deployed in South Korea were ready for a swift attack to take North Korean nuclear objects, notably the Yongbyon nuclear center, under their control.
(Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Izvestia)
Having worked for less than for months after being elected, the Ukrainian parliament faces dissolution, as the parliamentary roster is constantly being blocked by opposition lawmakers.
The Cypriot government and the trio of international lenders agreed on final terms for a deal to provide the island nation with a bailout of 10 billion euro.
OIL & GAS
Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed Gazprom to reassess the Yamal-Europe-2 Pipeline Project. Experts estimate its cost at about $5 billion.
Rosneft and ExxonMobil have agreed to jointly participate in a tender to explore the Lebanese coastal shelf. Among their rivals are Total, Сhevron, Eni, Statoil, Shell as well as companies from Japan, South Korea and India.
Russia may build another skyscraper at the last free spot in the Moscow City business center instead of parking space.
TELECOMS & IT
The Federal Antimonopoly Service has approved sales of Tele2’s Russian assets to the VTB bank.
The horsemeat scandal in Europe might be followed by the fish scandal following a report by the ocean conservation non-profit group Oceana. The report states that the content of 30 percent of all fish products sold in Germany and 40 percent in the United States does not correspond with what the pack says. Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said the situation on the Russian market is likely to be similar.
(Kommersant, Vedomosti, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
The Russian Finance Ministry has published a draft bill obliging all shops to install bank card equipment by January 1, 2014.
Russian arms sales grew 12 percent in 2012, to $15.2 billion.
The Russian Transport Ministry has hitherto allowed civil aircraft to fly above Moscow at an altitude no lower than 8 km. The aviation authorities, however, want to allow flights at a minimum altitude of just 1.5 km, but the Moscow city administration opposes the move.
A bill banning alcohol sales to people under the age of 21 was introduced to the State Duma.
Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court has sanctioned the arrest of Far Eastern official Oleg Bukalov, suspected of embezzling 93 million rubles (over $3 million) allocated for the 2012 APEC summit preparations.
Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky was released from a prison in Cambodia on $50,000 bail.
(Kommersant, Rossiiskaya Gazeta)
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.