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    * Russia expects NATO to make clear the reasons for its position on Georgia before it begins developing intensive military cooperation with the alliance, Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said

    * Russia has started testing a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to provide target designation for Iskander missile systems, a defense industry official said

    * Russia will press for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Cuba nearly 50 years ago, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said 

    * Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow is hoping to observe positive changes in U.S. foreign policy under President Barack Obama

    * A Moscow court issued an arrest warrant for a founder and former co-owner of Russia's top mobile phone retailer, Euroset, on kidnapping charges

    * Russia's chief sanitary official has instructed regional authorities to tighten disease control measures amid a rise in the number of bird flu cases in China, his press service said 


    * Israeli aircraft struck tunnels used for smuggling goods on border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Israel's military said

    * U.S. President Barack Obama's new Middle East envoy called for the strengthening and extension of the current Gaza ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

    * Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos against excessive protectionism and a bigger state role in the economy amid the ongoing financial crisis

     * Russia has started deliveries of Mi-171 Hip transport helicopters to Iran under a $45 million contract, the Fars news agency reported

    * Russia's Defense Ministry considers it premature to announce plans to deploy Iskander missile systems in the country's Baltic exclave in response to the planned deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Central Europe, a high ranking ministry source said

    * NATO would consider the suspension of Russian plans to deploy Iskander missile systems near Poland a "good step," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said 

    * Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded during a televised speech that the United States apologize for its "past crimes" against the country and drastically change its policies towards Tehran

    * Israel has no objections in principle to the holding of an international Mideast peace conference in Moscow, the deputy director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Pinchas Avivi, said

    * Pope Benedict XVI said he "received with gladness" the news of Metropolitan Kirill's election as the new head of the Russian Orthodox Church

    * Cuban leader Raul Castro's weeklong official visit to Russia, which starts on Wednesday, is an historic event, Cuban Ambassador to Russia Juan Valdez Figueroa said

    * Georgia has no plans to hand over Jr. Sgt. Alexander Glukhov, who it says has deserted from the Russian army, to Moscow, Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said

    * Japan demands the immediate release of 10 merchant seaman detained on board a vessel by Russia for alleged crab poaching, Chief Cabinet Secretary Tateo Kawamura said

    * The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed in Zurich to continue talks on the Nagorny Karabakh frozen conflict, a spokesman for the Armenian president said

    * Six ethnic Chechens have been arrested in Vienna on suspicion of being involved in the January 13 murder of Umar Israilov, a spokesman for the country's prosecutor's office said

    * Russia's Elena Dementieva overcame the blistering heat and her Spanish opponent to win in straight sets at the Australian Open, the third Russian player to make it into the semifinals at Melbourne

    * The chief of Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz denied claims by the president's office that he had signed gas agreements with Russian energy giant Gazprom under pressure


    * Russia's largest independent crude producer LUKoil and France's Foraco have signed a deal worth around 10.5 million euros ($13.9 million) to explore for diamonds in northern Russia, LUKoil said 

    * The capacity of a gas pipeline designed to pump gas to the Balkans and other European states is expected to be boosted by 16 billion cubic meters annually, Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said 

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