Senior Azerbaijani officials and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov have signed in Baku a package of economic agreements between the government of Azerbaijan and the city of Moscow. The agreements, mainly of intent, envisage supplying Russia’s capital with Azerbaijani oil, oil products, and agricultural produce in return for industrial and consumer goods. President Haidar Aliev agreed to consider participation by the Moscow-based Central Fuel Company, headed by Russia’s former fuel and power minister, Yury Shafranik, in Azerbaijani offshore oil projects. Luzhkov assured his hosts that tensions between Moscow authorities and Azerbaijani residents — long a sore spot for both sides — had subsided. He personally endorsed Baku’s case for reopening the Russia-Azerbaijani border to commercial traffic and for allowing Azerbaijani cargo ships to ply Russia’s Caspian waters, the lower Volga, and the Volga-Don canal. (Turan, Russian agencies, June 14-15)
As minister, Shafranik tacitly undercut the Russian Foreign Ministry’s attempts to challenge the legality of Azerbaijan’s international oil contracts. The Russian government continues to stonewall Azerbaijan’s requests regarding cross-border traffic and Caspian-Volga shipping.
Kazak Military Update.