Russia thinks it perspective to cooperate with Venezuela in oil and gas production, energy, construction, non-ferrous metallurgy and agriculture, said official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko in the runup to a visit by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to Caracas which starts on Friday. According to him, trade relations with Venezuela have been gaining in dynamics of late. The trade between the two countries in 2000 amounted to 100 million dollars. Russia's exports (25 million dollars) consist mainly of mineral fertilizers, metal cutting lathes, road building machines, ferrous metals and rolled steel. Its main imports from Venezuela (75 million dollars) are ores, aluminium concentrates, carbon electrodes, coffee and so on. A number of commercial projects are being carried out, said Yakovenko. The first contract has been signed for exporting spare parts to VAZ cars; work is going on at organising the assembly of VTZ tractors (VTZ stands for the Volgograd Tractor Plant) in the free economic zone of the Falcon State. There are prospects for the participation in modernisation of the civil air fleet, the construction of sea liners and the reconstruction of the Turi hydro-electric power station. Venezuela, too, according to the Russian diplomat, is interested in using Russian satellites, purchasing systems for water purifying and processing wastes and hydro-electric power stations of small capacity, using the services of Russian sea and air carriers in the Caribbean area and in the participation of Russian organisations and enterprises in the implementation of joint projects for the exploration of the Orinoco delta (in the sphere of construction and agriculture). During the visit to Russia by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela in May 2001, said the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, a decision was taken to set up a high-level commission for determining and working out promising trends in cooperation.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea