The Russian government yesterday approved the construction of a new oil pipeline bypassing Chechnya. The 284-km pipeline will go through Dagestan and Stavropol krai, skirting Chechnya’s administrative border on its way from the Caspian to Russia’s Black Sea port at Novorossiisk. The government did not, however, resolve the issue of how the construction, estimated to cost $220 million, is to be financed. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has insisted that state budget funds will not be used and that other sources of finance will be found. (Itar-Tass, September 18) The Chechen authorities have reacted angrily to the project, which they say violates the spirit of the oil transport agreement Russian signed with Chechnya last week. The Russian government insists that it must have an alternative to the Chechen route in order to meet its responsibilities to the international consortium producing Caspian oil.
Duma Leaders Remain Reluctant to Ratify START II.