News in Brief

Threat to Close Air Space

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Russia threatened to block NATO from using its air space for operations in Afghanistan if member states did not stop "hostile" policies toward Moscow, the Kremlin's top diplomat in Kabul said.

"[Russian air space] is still open, but if the NATO countries continue to their hostile policies with regard to Russia, definitely this issue will happen," Zamir Kabulov told BBC radio in an interview aired Thursday. (Reuters)

20 Killed in Karabakh

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- More than 20 Azeri and Armenian soldiers have been killed in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh since July, an Azerbaijan government official said Thursday. Armenia disputed the claim.

Eldar Sabirogly, a spokesman for the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry, said at least 15 Armenian soldiers died during that period. He said the number of Azeri soldiers was half that number.

However, officials with Armenia's Defense Ministry said Armenia had lost no soldiers during that period. Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan, also said their forces had seen no losses. (AP)

Mother Denied Parole

A court in Mordovia has denied parole to a pregnant mother-of-two who supporters say was caught up in a Kremlin campaign to punish businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, according to the judge who heard the case.

Svetlana Bakhmina, a former lawyer with Khodorkovsky's now-defunct Yukos oil company, requested early release after serving more than half of her 6 1/2-year sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion. (Reuters)

OSCE Talks Deadlocked

VIENNA -- Talks on sending more OSCE monitors to Georgia deadlocked Thursday over Russia's refusal to let monitors into South Ossetia.

The Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had been discussing sending up to 80 additional unarmed military observers to Georgia following fighting over the breakaway province of South Ossetia last month.

Twenty additional OSCE monitors have already been sent to areas close to war-torn South Ossetia, bringing the total to 28.

But the OSCE, Europe's largest security organization, said talks on the 80 others had been "put on hold" after no compromise on the South Ossetia issue could be reached. (AP, Reuters)

Navy Fires New ICBM

The Navy successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday.

The Bulava missile was launched Thursday from a nuclear submarine, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the missile was test-fired from the submerged Dmitry Donskoy submarine, and that its warheads hit a designated target at a military range on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, news agencies reported. (AP)

Belarus Wants Acceptance

MINSK -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, in newspaper interviews on Thursday, urged the West to recognize his country's parliamentary election later this month and work to improve relations.

"We want you to accept us, to endorse and recognize our election," Lukashenko told the Financial Times and Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in comments released by Belarussian news agencies before publication.

"We do not want to talk to you across the Iron Curtain, which you have erected on the borders of Belarus."

The United States and the EU have imposed travel banks and financial sanctions on Belarus. (Reuters)