Russian plans to rebase some of the Black Sea Fleet’s warships in Novorossiisk worries oil and commercial interests as well as the city’s authorities. They anticipate that such a move would result in interference with commercial shipping, reduction of the port’s cargo handling capacity, shrinkage of its income, and loss of expected foreign investment in the port’s overdue modernization. The port of Novorossiisk is a joint stock company in which the Russian state holds a controlling share and foreign capital represents only 12 percent thus far, despite efforts to increase that share. (Delovaya Rossiia, Petroleum Information Agency, April 29)
Novorossiisk has been assigned a key role in Russian plans to pressure Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and their Western partners into routing the bulk of Caspian oil exports via Russia, instead of directly to international markets. Novorossiisk’s oil terminal is supposed to undergo expansion and handle the oil’s transshipment from pipeline to tankers.
Russia’s Defense Ministry considers Novorossiisk the main alternative to naval bases lost in Ukraine and argues that building bases elsewhere on the Russian Black Sea coast would cost too much and take too long. Should the Russian government satisfy oil and commercial interests over military interests in Novorossiisk, the result could be a more obstinate insistence by both the government and the military on basing rights in Sevastopol on terms unacceptable to Ukraine. Novorossiisk thus looms increasingly larger in the economic and security planning of four post-Soviet countries.
…And Local vs. Federal Interests.