Oct 23, 2008

How the Georgian-Russian Conflict Affected Azerbaijan

Yeah, Saakashvili, ever think of that? What you were doing to Azerbaijan when you poked the bear? You owe some apologies.

NY Times: Azerbaijan, a small, oil-rich country on the Caspian Sea, has balanced the interests of Russia and the US since it won its independence from the USSR. It accepts NATO training but does not openly state an intention to join. American planes can refuel on its territory, but American soldiers cannot be based here.

“Azerbaijan is doing a dance between the West and Russia,” said Isa Gambar, an Azeri opposition figure. “Until now, there was an unspoken consensus. Georgia was with the West, Armenia was an outpost of Russia, and Azerbaijan was in the middle.”

However...Post Coflict: Azerbaijan will be under more pressure from Russia when undertaking energy contracts and pipeline routes that Russia opposes, said one Azeri official. Officials from Russia’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, on a trip here this spring, offered to buy Azerbaijan gas at European prices, rather than at the former reduced rate. That offer, if the Azeris chose to accept it, could sabotage a Western-backed gas pipeline project called Nabucco.

But for the optimists: “One of the positive effects of the Georgian crisis is that the Kremlin will try to show that they are not crazy guys,” an unnamed Azeri official said. “That they can be good neighbors, too.”

I don't know, unnamed Azeri official. Putin and Medvedev seem like two wild and crazy guys :)

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