Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 33

Ambassador Feliks Kovalev, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Working Group on Caspian Legal Issues, denied yesterday that Moscow supports Turkmenistan’s claim to Azerbaijan’s giant "Azeri" and Chirag offshore oil fields. The Ministry’s chief spokesman, Gennady Tarasov, had virtually endorsed that claim last week. (See Monitor, February 14) But Kovalev stated in an interview that issues of jurisdiction over offshore oil fields ought to be resolved only after determining the Caspian’s legal status by agreement among the five riparian countries. Meanwhile Moscow "does not and will not recognize any unilateral actions," Kovalev said, implying that both Azerbaijan’s and Turkmenistan’s positions on the two oil fields were "unilateral" deviations from Moscow’s principle of common jurisdiction for the five countries. (Interfax, February 16)

As Baku had been quick to point out but Tarasov failed to appreciate in his statement, Turkmenistan’s claim to the two Azerbaijani oil fields implicitly supported the principles of sectoral division and national jurisdiction. Kovalev’s qualifications are evidently intended to maintain the integrity of Moscow’s case for common jurisdiction, through which it hopes to exercise a measure of control over the oil wealth of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakstan.

Solana in Azerbaijan.