Following Vladimir Putin’s dismissal of environmental concerns regarding the project, Finland’s environmental officials have given their approval for the Nord Stream pipeline – the final permit needed for the project, at which construction is now likely to start in April. The government is planning to increase control over oil exports by calling for greater transparency on the transport of fuel. Lithuania has turned down a Russian proposal to join the building of a new nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad, because it is aiming to build its own. The New York Times examines the strategy shift of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in his move this week to award contracts to Western oil companies. Iran is urging Russia to remain a close partner as international sanctions over its nuclear program increase, and wants Russia and Venezuela jointly to set a minimum oil price of $80 to counter Western methods of keeping prices low.