On March 19, a giant Russian AN-124 transport plane en route from Kazakhstan stopped at Baku for refueling. An everyday occurrence–except this plane was carrying six disassembled MiG-21 fighter aircraft and other military equipment, all described in the air waybill as “scrap metal.” Along for the ride were some thirty Russian airmen and military technicians, also improperly documented. Puzzled Azeri authorities were strafed with explanations: The plane was headed for North Korea; no, make that Bratislava, Slovakia; anyway, not Serbia. Then Kazakhstan asserted responsibility, saying the MiGs were old equipment to be delivered to a Czech arms dealer, with Serbia “not stipulated” in the contract. On March 29, President Haidar Aliev announced the release of the transport, the crew and the passengers, but said Azerbaijan would keep the MiGs for the time being. The release, he added, was a “gesture” to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, then visiting Baku. Luzhkov no doubt appreciated the opportunity to break the news at a press conference, grabbing some good air time in Russia…. Aliev also used Luzhkov’s visit to reveal that Russia had offered to supply Azerbaijan with MiG-29s and S-300 antimissile systems, like those already provided to Armenia. Taking the moral high ground, or at least the rhetorical high road, Aliev said he rejected the offer. “Here in the Caucasus, in our complicated situation, we must disarm, not arm”… A non-Russian oil pipeline from Baku to Supsa, a Black Sea port in Georgia, opens this week–and just in time. The line from Baku to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk has shut down in a payments dispute between pipeline monopoly Transneft and the Republic of Chechnya, which claims it is owed US$100 million for maintenance and royalties.