Since January 1, 2002, till the time when a new agreement on trade in steel is signed and put into effect, Russia and the European Union will most probably apply the system of "double control" to supplies of metallurgical products. This opinion was expressed by a staffer from the ministry of economic development and trade in a conversation with a RIA Novosti correspondent. The term of the current agreement between Russia and the European Coal and Steel Community on trade in some steel products expires on December 31, 2001. The "double control" system provides for a number of technical procedures to be established by the Russian ministry of economic development and trade and the European commission so as to ensure Russian steel supplies to the European Union. Consultations between Russia and the EU on the drafting of a new agreement on steel began this November. One of the concrete results of these consultations is the preliminary agreement that the EU will increase its quotas for Russian metallurgical exports by 30 percent. According to the ministry's source, another round of talks between Russia and the European Union aimed at drafting the new agreement is expected to take place in the second part of January. At the same time, it is not ruled out that the question of whether the document on steel will be signed or not will be decided already next month.
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land