The Azerbaijan International Operating Company´s (AIOC) October 9 compromise decision to use two routes for pumping "early" oil from Azerbaijan, one via Georgia and Turkey and one via Russia, has elicited a belated reaction in Moscow. A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said that Moscow "would like Caspian oil to go only through Russian territory;" at most, the Georgian route may be admissible "only as an auxiliary to the Russian route." The official warned that Moscow´s decision on "whether or not to conclude an agreement with the consortium on using the Russian pipeline will depend on many conditions, primarily on the amount of oil to be transported." (9)
The remarks confirm that Moscow´s objective is to control the lion´s share of Azeri oil exports. The supposedly moderate Foreign Ministry has all along fought the international consortium´s "deal of the century" in Azerbaijan, asserting Russia´s doctrine of privileged "joint use" of Caspian resources by its riparian states. This position places Russia squarely at odds with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, the U.S., and Britain, all of which have endorsed the compromise decision. This Russian warning about the use of the Russian pipeline for the "early" (from 1996) Azeri oil bodes ill for negotiations on the route for the much larger amounts of "future" oil from Azerbaijan.
…But Welcomed by Dudayev´s Camp.