Caspian Neighbors Build New Bridges

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  • Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are discussing plans to open up new trade routes heading west across the Caspian Sea to Turkey and Europe, and away from Russia.
  • An envisaged scheme would bring large volumes of Kazakh oil by ship to Baku, to be fed into existing cross-border pipelines running to the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
  • Both countries will need to tread carefully with Russia, which could shut down transit routes across its territory if it feels either is moving too close to the West.

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, which are not connected by land but share a maritime border in the Caspian Sea, are moving closer together as they look to build new bridges (or expand existing ones) with Europe and reduce their dependence on Russia. It is a tricky balancing act for both countries. Kazakhstan exports most of its oil via Russia, has sizable Russian populations in its northern areas, and had to call on Russian military assistance in January to quell a wave of insurrection. Azerbaijan, while not relying so heavily on Russia as a transit route for its energy exports, needed the Kremlin’s help to recapture territory from Armenia in a four-month war last year. Its ruling family, the Aliyevs, also has private business interests in Russia that could be at risk. Baku in July pledged to double gas exports to the EU by 2027, when the EU hopes to have ended its reliance on Russian gas.

Resource Access, Security Risk , Oil Pipelines, Oil Supply, Ukraine Crisis
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