OPENING OF NORTHERN OIL PIPELINE A MIXED BAG FOR RUSSIA.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 201
The opening of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline is a victory for Russia, Security Council deputy secretary Boris Berezovsky told NTV last night. He described the pipeline as a stabilizing factor in relations between Russia and Chechnya and as a sign that "economic expedience has conquered political extremism." (NTV, October 27)
The beginning of the transit of oil along the "northern variant" is the only issue on which Moscow and Grozny have managed to agree since the signing of the Khasavyurt accords last year. The benefits of the pipeline to Russia are obvious, regardless of the state of relations between Moscow and Grozny and of who will reap most of the economic benefits. The attitude of the Chechen population toward Russia will undoubtedly improve since, at this time, Chechnya’s domestic economic resources are clearly insufficient to feed the people. According to Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin, 80 percent of the Chechen population and almost 100 percent of young people are unemployed. Since the mass migration of job-seekers from Chechnya to Russia is highly undesirable from Moscow’s point of view, the Russian government is likely to find itself under pressure to provide financial support for those who stay in Chechnya. The negative side of pumping the oil through Grozny is also obvious, however. Here the danger for Russia is a policy so dependent on the situation in Chechnya that the economic and political benefits of the pipeline itself could prove inadequate.
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