RUSSIAN-TURKMEN DISAGREEMENTS ON GAS TRANSIT CAST SHADOW ON YELTSIN’S VISIT.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 33

Russian Ambassador Anatoly Shchelkunov announced yesterday in Ashgabat that the scheduling of President Boris Yeltsin’s overdue visit to Turkmenistan depends on resolution of differences over gas transit and other disagreements. Moscow has for the past year blocked Turkmen gas exports through Russian pipelines — the sole available route at present. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has also recently advanced virtually prohibitive terms for resuming transshipments. (For details of the dispute see Monitor, January 6, 28, and 30 and February 5)

At a formal meeting with the diplomatic corps on February 16, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niazov expressed some hope that Yeltsin’s visit may help resolve these differences. In remarks directed at Shchelkunov, Niazov remonstrated that relations "must not be based on the notion on elder brother and junior brothers: we’ve been through that in the recent past… There are forces in Russia who consider the disintegration of the USSR as a tragedy and as their personal defeat." (Russian agencies, February 16 and 17)

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