Russian crude oil exports soared 24 percent in the first half of 2002compared to the corresponding period last year, despite an agreement withOPEC to hold output steady over that period.Russian customs data showed that Russia, heavily reliant on energyrevenues, boosted exports via major ports and pipelines to Europe and alsogave oil firms free rein to increase exports via alternative routes, suchas through routes neighboring Ukraine and Belarus. Industry sources andtraders said this had likely pushed up real volumes of crude exports toEurope beyond official statistics.Russia, the world's second largest oil exporter, officially abandoned thedeal with OPEC from July but told the cartel's Secretary General AlvaroSilva in talks last week that it would continue to cooperate. Howeve,rRussian authorities made no concrete pledges.Crude oil exports from Russia to western and central Europe rose inJanuary-June by 7.7 percent to 72.1 million tons, or 2.92 million barrelsper day (bpd) from 66.9 million tons, or 2.71 million bpd in the sameperiod of 2001, the Russia Journal reported..
Representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation commented on the state of affairs in the Sea of Azov
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that Russia will never initiate military actions, including with the use of nuclear weapons