Control of the oil-rich Caspian Sea may be atrillion-dollar question, if the value of transit routes and seabedresources are taken together. Russia, which has long argued that all statesalong the Caspian shores have shared sovereignty, last week modified itsposition. Russia now proposes that each littoral state control a wedge ofthe offshore seabed, with only the water surface and the water depth undercommon jurisdiction. That would mean, the Russians say, shared control overfishing and shipping, and shared responsibility for protecting the Caspian’sdeteriorating environment. Kazakhstan appears to leaning toward support forthis new Russian initiative, but Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan continue toinsist on full division of the sea into national sectors, with no commonjurisdictions. Why? With common jurisdiction over water surface and waterdepth, Russia could gain legal standing to block projects that reducedependence on Russian trade routes to bring Caspian oil and gas to market.One obvious target is the U.S.-backed trans-Caspian pipeline to carry oiland gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan’s port of Baku. Thatproject, say the Russians, threatens the Caspian ecosystem and should besubject to the joint approval of states with a Caspian border.