The Chechen government demands a share in the project to pump Azerbaijani oil via Chechnya to the Russian port Novorossiisk, a Chechen government representative identified as Eduard Hachukaev stated yesterday in Baku. He said that he had participated in talks with top management of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), and had notified the consortium that it "must take Chechnya’s interests into account, or else oil will not be transported on the Baku-Novorossiisk route. Moreover, it will not be transported through another North Caucasus route either." Hachukaev claimed that the existing pipeline’s stretch through Chechnya is in good condition. (Turan, December 12)
Moscow wants a large portion of the oil output from Azerbaijan’s "deal of the century" to be detoured through Russia via the North Caucasus. Although the AIOC considers that route as one option, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia favor the shorter and safer export route in the opposite direction. During the recent war, Chechen leaders had threatened to foil any Russian-AIOC deal, offering to negotiate with the AIOC themselves for a cut of the revenue. Moscow now hopes that the end of the war will facilitate the AIOC’s acceptance of the Russian route and induce the Chechens to cooperate in guaranteeing the pipeline’s security. Yesterday’s warning undermines that hope.
Turkish Interest in Kazakhstan Reaffirmed.