Igor Zonn, D.Sc. (Geogr.), academician at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, editor and publisher of the Caspian Herald (Russian Federation)

Sergey Zhiltsov, Ph.D. (Philos.), consultant of the Standing Committee of the Russia-Belarus Union State (Russian Federation)

During the first decade of the 21st century, the Caspian Region,1 to which the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus belong in the geopolitical respect, remains a zone where the interests of many of the worlds countries meet. This is due to its advantageous geographic location, vast hydrocarbon supplies, and unique biological resources, primarily the worlds stock of sturgeon, as well as its location at the crossroads of major transportation routes, the further development of which could have an impact both on the region as a whole and on the individual countries that belong to it.

The events of 11 September, 2001 in New York and Washington launched a new phase in Russian and American foreign policy in the Caspian, since an essentially different geopolitical situation has developed in the world and in this region. And the two major players are attempting to significantly step up their policy in the countries of the region and reinforce their foothold there, both independently, and on the basis of mutual cooperation.

The current situation in Central Asia and the Caucasus is characterized by the fact that the interests of the states within and beyond the region now coincide and then diverge. The U.S. and Russia are an excellent case in point, since due to historical circumstances these two countries are among the leading players here. In this respect, it is extremely pertinent to view their policy in the region through the prism of Washington and Moscows regional interests, which define the level of interaction between the White House and the Kremlin.

After the events of September 2001, when Russia supported the United States in the fight against international terrorism, the Bush Administration reviewed its approach toward Russia and initiated closer ties with it. As a result, the Russian factor in the region and its weight in drawing up the American administrations foreign policy significantly grew. The two countries found a common language at the peak of the antiterrorist campaign, since this was in keeping with their mutual interests.

The U.S.s need to gain Russias support was dictated by several considerations. By raising Moscows role in the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan, the American administration created a favorable background for bilateral cooperation. The U.S. realized that despite Russias waning authority in the Central Asian and Caucasian countries, its influence is still sufficiently high due to the export pipelines. What is more, the Bush Administration found it vital to seek rapprochement with Russia, since the U.S. did not have any relations to speak of with the anti-Taliban opposition in Afghanistan, which Russia supported in the 1990s. Therefore, at the first stage of the antiterrorist operation, Moscow assumed a pivotal role. Another reason why the U.S. could not bypass Russia was the formation of an essentially new collective security system in the Central Asian countries, in which Russia and China played the main roles. Had the U.S. entered the Caspian Region and established its military presence there without Moscows consent, an extremely tense situation would have been created, since the Collective Security Treaty among several CIS countries was still in effect, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was forming at a rapid rate, and two of its members, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, actively supported the U.S. antiterrorist campaign.

Vladimir Putin Rediscovers the Caspian

After supporting the U.S.s actions in Afghanistan and consenting to the entry of western military contingents into the Central Asian and Caucasian countries, Russia stepped up its own policy in the region, which began to assume the features of a long-term strategy.

This is confirmed by the steps taken by the Russian President beginning in the spring of 2002. For example, the Caspians problems became the main focus of the Presidents April trip to Astrakhan. The meeting held there by Vladimir Putin focused on transportation issues, the development of new hydrocarbon fields, the military component of Russian policy at sea, the environment, and the preservation of the Caspian bioresources. For the first time, Vladimir Putin called the poaching of sturgeon bioterrorism.

Literally one month later, the leaders of the corresponding ministries of Russia, Iran, and India signed a statement on the official opening of the North-South international transportation corridor. Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank stated that the emergence of this new route would create real competition to the route that passes through the Suez Canal and could fundamentally change the configuration of international relations throughout the European continent. In the next few years, Russia intends to carry out a manifold increase in the loading capacities of several ports: Olia in the Astrakhan Region and the port in Makhachkala. In particular, there are plans to build a container terminal for handling bulk oil deliveries in the Daghestani capital. The modernization of these ports will make it possible to attract additional transit flows, which will also help Russia to gain a stronger foothold in the Caspian.

Despite the difficulties in preparing multilateral agreements on the legal status of the sea, Russia continues to look for solutions on the bilateral level and is achieving a certain amount of success here. For example, in mid-May the Russian and Kazakhstan presidents signed an annex on the principles of subsurface use to the agreement between the countries on demarcation of the northern sector of the Caspian seabed. This annex sets forth the principles and legal foundations of interaction between the two countries in assimilating the resources in this sector of the Caspian seabed, and also determines the geographical coordinates for drawing a modified median line in the northern sector of the Caspian seabed between the two states. The three hydrocarbon fields located on this lineKurmangazy, Central, and Khvalynwill be developed on a parity basis50/50.

At essentially the same time, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an agreement for 15 years on the transit of Kazakhstani oil via Russian oil pipelines. This will allow Astana to pump up to 15 million tons of oil annually via the Atyrau-Samara oil pipeline and no less than 2.5 million tons a year via the Makhachkala-Tikhoretsk-Novorossiisk oil pipeline system. For Moscow, the signing of this document was of great significance since it gave Russia the status of a transit country.2 In September, the Russian-Azeri agreement on the legal status of the Caspian was signed. It essentially completed division of the northern sector of the sea and made its legal conditions among these three states predictable. At the same time, Azerbaijan is continuing active negotiations with Iran.

Russia has also begun augmenting its military presence in the region, which should become a significant factor in ensuring its political and economic interests. During his trip to Astrakhan, Vladimir Putin gave an order to conduct the training exercises of the Caspian flotilla, the purpose of which was to streamline the action of various departments in the fight against terrorist threats and the spread of drugs, which are penetrating Russia from the south via the Caspian.

The training exercises conducted in August were meant to demonstrate the Kremlins military potential. What is more, Russia reconfirmed its status as leading regional nation, its claims to which had been dealt something of a blow during the past decade, and reminded not only the Caspian countries, but also the states beyond the region that it has both strategic interests in this area, as well as levers with which to defend them.

Today, Russia is the only Caspian country that has conducted a targeted policy during all these years aimed at protecting and preserving sturgeon, which is supported by the U.S. This has become particularly important in the past few years in light of the significant deterioration in the environment, which has dealt a severe blow to natural marine resources. And although Russia releases approximately 50 million young sturgeon into the Caspian, as well as into the Volga and other rivers of this water basin every year, the problem of poaching and smuggling of black caviar has nevertheless long gone beyond the framework of the environmental sphere. The shadow economy of Russias Caspian constituentsDaghestan and Kalmykiais largely fed by illegal sturgeon fishing and the caviar business. Its turnover constitutes hundreds of millions of dollars in these republics.

In May, a guest meeting of the Federation Council Committee on CIS Affairs was held in Astrakhan at which questions of legislative support of Russias interests in the Caspian Basin were discussed. And one month later, at its plenary session, the State Duma adopted an appeal to the deputies from the parliaments of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran, which noted that as a result of the drastic increase in economic activity, including oil production, environmental problems in the Caspian Sea have become aggravated in recent years, requiring joint efforts to create and implement a system of urgent measures to protect the environment in the Caspian.3 This document also noted that the main task is for the Caspian states to enter an agreement among five countries on the preservation and use of biological marine resources. It proposed focusing special attention on action coordination in the fight against poaching. In particular, the Russian parliamentary deputies suggested creating an interstate Caspian center for developing methods of control and systemic monitoring of the marine environment and conducting international environmental experts examinations of economic projects in the Caspian, including those aimed at assimilating fields, transporting hydrocarbons, and developing biological resources.

A meeting of the Commission of Biological Marine Resources of the Caspian states was held in Baku at which the problems of artificial reproduction of sturgeon in particular, as well as questions relating to amending the agreements on preserving these resources, were discussed. Fishing and other marine product quotas, as well as export quotas for black caviar were addressed for 2003. In this way, Russia is continuing to focus attention on preservation of the environment and biological resources, which other Caspian states are still not seriously attending to.

It goes without saying that the measures undertaken by Vladimir Putin have stepped up Russias policy in the Caspian and increased its involvement in the regions affairs. But despite the increased attention of western states, these steps are not capable of dramatically changing the trends already in force here.

Moscows indirect and rather sluggish policy during the 1990s in the Central Asian and Caucasian countries essentially led to the fact that Vladimir Putin had to reformulate Russias interests in the region, as it would seem, in so doing building a new system of relations not only with the regional countries, but also with states beyond the region.

It should be noted that the steps taken by Russia to a certain extent meet U.S. interests and in the future may form connecting links between them, strengthen Russian-American relations, and promote stability in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

As the tragic events in the U.S. recede into the past, it is becoming ever clearer that Russian-American cooperation, after being raised to a new level after September 2001, returned to its former state by mid-2002. After completion of the active phase of the operation in Afghanistan, it became obvious that the warming trend in Russian-American relations achieved in the fall of 2001 would not last forever. Despite the first signs of a long-term shift in American policy toward Russia, the high level of consent during this period was largely determined by the war in Afghanistan, where Moscow and Washington had broad parallel interests. Completion of the main stage in the operation again reduced Russias role in the system of American foreign policy interests and made it difficult to resolve the remaining contradictions in bilateral relations.4

The euphoria aroused by the joint Russian-American operations against international terrorists began to give way to pragmatic prudence and the two states turning back to focus on their own national interests.

George Bush Jr. Follows in His Fathers Footsteps

The United States made its first, lets call it, trial entry into the Caspian Region as early as 1991 when George Bush Sr. conducted Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. Ten years later, his son followed in his fathers footsteps, right up to resolving global tasks in this extensive region, which in all likelihood will reach their apogee in the first decade of the 21st century.

Completion of the active phase of the antiterrorist operation conducted by Washington under the banner of unity of action among all the countries of the world against international terrorism brought discussions on the further development of both the region as a whole and of its individual countries to the forefront in the U.S. by mid-2002. By this time, the White House, taking advantage of the situation that developed after the attack on New York and Washington, had grasped the unique opportunity to gain rapid entry and secure a firm foothold in Central Asia and the Caucasus. In addition, the United States has also been carrying out another geopolitical task of the decade. Using the Central Asian states as a springboard, the military bases of which make it possible to carry out all manner of different tasks, Washington has not only reduced the distance between the U.S. and China, but also established control over the transportation communication routes of the vast Eurasian space. In so doing, Chinese nuclear arsenals are within the reach of American tactical aviation. Advancement toward the PRC is most likely one of Washingtons long-range goals. The U.S. does not exclude the fact that the growth rate of Beijings economic potential could lead in 15-20 years to a powerful state emerging in Eurasia capable of entering the fight for control over energy resources and transportation routes.

The beginning of the new stage in U.S. regional policy probably also dates back to mid-2002, where its interests and Russias interests, which coincided on such global problems as the fight against international terrorism and maintaining stability in the region, began to diverge on certain issues. The most graphic example is the situation that has developed around the export of hydrocarbon resources from the Caspian countries. These states are trying to free themselves from their dependence on Russia, in which the U.S. is actively supporting them, since oil continues to play an important role in its energy policy. In turn, Moscow is trying to retain monopoly control over transportation of the regions hydrocarbons.

In an official message to the international energy conference, Caspian Oil, Gas, Oil Refining, and Petrochemistry-2002, George Bush supported the projects on building pipelines to the world markets through Georgia and Turkey. He noted that, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project will make an essential contribution to better integrating Azerbaijan, Georgia and other countries in the region into the global economy, and will also help the West reduce its dependence on Gulf exporters. Construction of the pipeline, expected to carry 1 million barrels of oil a day, would also mean that the Caspian producersAzerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistanwould not depend on Russian pipelines for shipping their oil.5

Citing the American magazine Newsweek, the Azeri newspaper Zerkalo wrote: The United States can celebrate a strategic victory: it is now close to reaching its goal of putting an end to Russias long monopoly on the oil pipelines exporting Caspian oil. Washington began striving for at least one oil pipeline to run from the Caspian Basin via Turkey without passing through Russia. This route would not only help the Caspian republics to obtain genuine oil and economic independence from Russia, it would also bypass Iran and reduce the significance of this American adversary as a player in the region. So it is good news for Washington that the struggle over the oil pipelines is taking a favorable turn for America.6

The decision to build the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline made in August 2002 can be qualified as an American strategic success, since Azeri oil will not be carried through Russia. Construction is due to begin at the beginning of 2003 and could possibly already be complete by 2005. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Co. (BTC Co.) has been entrusted with laying the route. The total cost of the project amounts to $2.75 billion, 30% of which will be borne by its participants and 70% of which comprises borrowed funds. The pipelines throughput capacity will constitute 50 million tons a year. The Greek Consolidated Contractors International Company got the contract for laying the pipes in Azerbaijan. A French company, Spie-Capag, and the Petrofac joint venture will construct the route through Georgia and form its overall infrastructure. The American Bechtel Company has been entrusted with designing, equipping, and administering the construction. The Botas Company will be responsible for the Turkish section of the route.

As Washington sees it, the multi-alternative pipeline policy should be decentralized, that is, the matter concerns building new pipeline routes, reorienting existing and future shipments of energy resources, and changing foreign trade and cooperation relations. The U.S. continues to support the pipeline policy of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, the goal of which is to gain independence from Russia in delivering natural gas and oil to Europe. Another reason for Americas increased interest in trans-Eurasian transportation arteries is that they are an efficient tool of influence and make it possible for private capital to win and secure a niche in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.

Using its rich foreign policy arsenal, the U.S. has been able to penetrate the region and create prerequisites for establishing control over the Caspian countries and their neighboring states, which, meeting no objection from Russia, have stated that they support Washingtons actions.

America has also changed its foreign policy style in the region. Private oil companies have been replaced by state structures, which in a short time, from the end of 2001 to the beginning of 2002, assumed the initiative in drawing up and implementing strategy in the Caspian Region, whereby making active use of private capital. As before, U.S. efforts are aimed at economic integration and military-political reorientation of the regions countries. An essential tool in reaching this goal is rendering economic aid and encouraging the Caspian states to establish new economic ties.

Judging by everything, the U.S. intends to reinforce its economic influence here, particularly in the energy sphere. Instability in oil shipments to the world markets is prompting Washington to look for ways to diversify the import of energy resources. The Bush Administration will encourage a change in direction in the economic relations of the Southern Caucasian and Central Asian countries, and assist their reorientation toward foreign markets and interregional cooperation. Correspondingly, these countries will be encouraged to distance themselves even further from Russia.

One of the priorities of U.S. policy in the region is to reinforce control over the oil routes, for which Washington is continuing to cultivate political-military cooperation with the Caspian states and their neighbors. The U.S. military department is using the current international situation to expand its direct and indirect (by means of NATO structures) presence in the post-Soviet space. For example, apart from American forces per se, NATO structures will follow in Washingtons wake and be represented on a grander scale in the region. Their role will be determined by those tasks marked out by the U.S. This is evidenced by the growing number of visits to the regions countries by representatives of the American administration and armed forces.

In mid-July, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul ONeil visited Kyrgyzstan, saying that: the U.S. will continue to render assistance to Kirgizia aimed at strengthening the defensibility of this Central Asian country.7 What is more, he noted that the deployment of an American air base in Bishkek as part of the antiterrorist coalition has made an immense contribution to economic growth in this republic. During Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akaevs visit to the U.S. in September 2002, it was confirmed that in addition to the $52 million already granted, the Americans intend to allot the country another $40 million for the maintenance of security forces.

The significance of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan for the U.S. is also confirmed by the decision made by the Bush Administration to ask Congress for additional military aid for them, in particular, $20 million in emergency aid for Georgias armed forces, in addition to the $11 million already planned, $11 million for Uzbekistan, in addition to the $25.2 million, and $9 million for Kyrgyzstan, in addition to the $2 million.8

The next stage in implementing the U.Ss long-range plans may be expanding the American presence in Kazakhstan, which not only occupies an important geopolitical position in Central Asia, but also possesses significant energy resources. In all likelihood, Kazakhstan, following Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, will become the Americans next focal point. For example, in June of last year, Astana and Washington signed an agreement pursuant to which the international airport in Almaty is to be a reserve airport for emergency landings and refueling American Air Force airplanes.

The prize for securing its foothold in Kazakhstan is to be control over the future routes of hydrocarbon exports, which according to Washingtons plans are to bypass Russia. The U.S. will most likely act according to the already familiar scenario, whereby the small military contingent brought in starts growing in numbers, equips the facilities it occupies, and begins reforming the national armed forces in keeping with western standards. The fact that this scenario is already being played out is evidenced by the active development of military cooperation. For example, in June Kazakhstan joined NATOs Planning and Analysis Process program by becoming its 20th member state and the first among the Central Asian countries. Cooperation under this program envisages expanding military-technical ties and will allow Astana to participate in peacekeeping missions and undertakings in armed conflict zones.

It is entirely possible that strengthening contacts between these two countries within the international antiterrorist coalition will increase their economic partnership, particularly with respect to the joint implementation of projects to develop energy resources in the Caspian Basin. What is more, the U.S. is looking at the question of removing the trade restrictions against Kazakhstan introduced by the Jackson-Vanick amendment. Even earlier the White House granted Kazakhstan (the first of the CIS republics) the status of a market economy country, which automatically opens its way to the WTO.

As early as August, the U.S. adopted a decision to allot Kazakhstan $2.75 million to buy military hardware for its mobile forces. Under the International Military Education and Training and Foreign Military Financing programs, Astana has already received approximately $1.8 million for training 200 of its servicemen in the US. In 2002, the republic began sending its officers to the U.S.s higher military academies: the National Defense Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the countrys most prestigious academy, West Point. In 2003, Astana should receive another $3 million for this purpose.

The subsequent increase in financing from the U.S. shows that Washington is striving to secure a niche in Kazakhstan and reorient its foreign policy, and then the oil flows, using diplomatic, military, economic, and political levers for this purpose.

The increase in the American presence in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan could reduce to naught the CIS Collective Security Treaty. At present, the American military bases are proving to be a more reliable tool for the Central Asian and Caucasian countries in resolving their domestic political and economic problems than cooperation with Russia.

It stands to reason that in this situation, the regions countries are interested in developing long-term partnership with the U.S. For example, Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akaev affirmed his willingness to extend the agreement with the U.S. entered for one year on granting the American military contingent access to its territory. In his words, the terrorist threat and instability in Afghanistan require that the West be involved in the regions affairs for a longer term. It will take time, most likely years, for the Afghani people to be able to set their country on the path toward reliable development, for them to live in peace and reconciliation, and eat bread instead of opium. So Kyrgyzstan is interested in the western forces remaining until this task has been completed.

The U.S. is still actively supporting the GUUAM bloc, which the Bush Administration still needs even though it has been weakened by Uzbekistan removing its membership. At the same time, Tashkents attitude toward this organization has become a signal that Washington will find bilateral contacts more beneficial than relations with the bloc as a whole, the members of which frequently have diverging interests and are in conflict with each other. Bilateral relations make it possible not only to establish closer cooperation, but also activate more efficacious tools of control and influence on the foreign policy of the regions countries.

Tashkent began distancing itself from its allies in the bloc almost immediately after the U.S. started forming its military bases in Central Asia. Uzbekistan President Islam Karimovs visit to the U.S. in June 2002 had an immense impact on the republics stance. During this visit, he signed a declaration in which Tashkent was named the U.S.s main strategic partner in Central Asia. This is not surprising since Uzbekistan has the greatest military potential in the region, occupies a convenient geographical and geostrategic position, and has an active impact on the development of the military-political situation.

Immediately after he returned from Washington, Islam Karimov stated: The U.S. has done for Uzbekistan what its CIS partners were unable to do. For the past five years, Uzbekistan and its people have been living under the threat of an armed invasion by the Taliban, and a decisive role in removing the tension on Uzbekistans southern borders has been played exclusively by the U.S., its determination, and its well-trained armed forces, and not by the participants in the CIS Collective Security Treaty.9

Oil Flows Are Changing Routes

The policy conducted by the White House under the banner of unity of action among all the countries of the world against international terrorism, including the training of antiterrorist subdivisions by American instructors in Georgia, the formation of temporary military bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, and the increase in financial aid, is aimed at making them more dependent on the U.S. and weakening Russias influence on them. This will provide fertile ground for carrying out the long-cherished plans of the American oil lobby to build transportation routes of Caspian oil and gas in the southerly direction, both bypassing Russia and skirting American-unfriendly Iran.

Kabul, which is orientated toward the U.S., after completion of the antiterrorist campaign will be able to ensure unhindered Caspian oil and gas transit completely independent of Russia through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. This may lead to a reduction in Moscows influence in the region and its isolation from hydrocarbon and other resources. This policy meets Washingtons interests, which is very intent on reducing its dependence on oil shipments from the Gulf states.

The Central Asian and Caucasian countries are trying to resolve some of their economic and domestic political problems at the expense of the American presence in Afghanistan. For example, Ashghabad has its sights set on building a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline, with the aid of which it would no longer depend on Russia for gas export.

On the whole, the U.S. approach to the Caspian Region can be formulated as follows: continuing to pay the Caspian states increased attention, while extending its influence to the Middle East countries. Before the tragic events in September, the United States tried to build an oil corridor for the Caspian republics to export hydrocarbons via the Persian Gulf. Today, this approach has to be adjusted somewhat. The actions of the White House give every reason to believe that Washingtons long-term goal is to include not only the Caspian states in this corridor, but also such countries as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Creating an energy arc under its control in the vast Eurasian space, the Caspian Region-Central Asia-the Middle East, is apparently the main goal of the George Bush Jr. Administration. Achieving this goal will make it possible to take control over half of the world hydrocarbon supplies, whereby not only today, but also in the future.

The matter essentially concerns altering the course of the export flows of energy resources to the foreign markets and changing the role of individual countries in the vast expanses of Eurasia. Whereas the U.S.s main condition used to be that the new routes bypass Russian territory, by the end of 2002 the accent of the American administration had shifted as follows: not one export country should have any determinant influence on the amounts of raw hydrocarbons produced and the direction they are exported in.

The Geopolitical Game Continues

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the situation in the Central Asian and Caucasian countries is largely defined by the policy conducted by Russia and the U.S. in the region. Their interests and level of interaction could lead both to rivalry and to the development of cooperation, which in turn will promote stability in these countries and provide solutions to conflict situations.

It is still difficult to say how relations between Russia and the U.S. will develop in the next few years in the countries of this vast region, which spheres will dominate in their contacts, and which will require effort to establish bilateral partnership, since in 2002 Moscow and Washington significantly stepped up their activity here. The accents of their foreign policy have shifted and new mechanisms have been put into action. Washington has essentially begun shaping the new geopolitical situation to its own advantage.

The White House has extremely realistic prospects for implementing its global strategy, a strategy that envisages diversifying the sources of energy resources and ensuring their unhindered delivery to the foreign markets. Energy resources are acting as a tool for directing geopolitical processes in the Eurasian space, to which the Caspian Region belongs. In accordance with this, the dividends from the efforts made today will not likely be reaped until ten years down the line.

What is more, the U.S. has gained immense leverage with respect to several key issues of the regions development: transportation routes, forming a new structure for its economic relations, and so on. U.S. policy in the Caspian boils down to extending its presence to those states that may even have some incidental influence on the situation in Central Asia and the Caucasus. This kind of geographic expansion by means of the other countries in this vast region would make it possible to control regional processes with a high degree of reliability in the future, even though it entails potential threats and risks.

In turn, Russia is trying to strengthen its historical economic and transportation ties, rely on its military power, and activate multilateral aspects of cooperation. To a certain extent, Moscow has succeeded in defending its interests in terms of the legal status of the Caspian Sea, in reinforcing the military component, and in putting several pipeline projects into operation, which have ensured retention of its dominant position in the transportation of oil and gas to the foreign markets.

It stands to reason that a unifying factor in Russian-American cooperation in the years to come will be international terrorism. It not only brought Russia and the U.S. to a new level of interaction, but also forced them to take a fresh look at many regional problems. The question is can Moscow and Washington build a new model of cooperation in the region in light of the current international situation or will the new problems lead to a zone of rivalry between them in Central Asia and the Caucasus, thus raising the tension in this resource-rich region of the world.

1 For a more detailed definition of the term Caspian Region, see: I.S. Zonn, S.S. Zhiltsov, The Caspian Region, Edel-M Publishers, Moscow, 2003.
2 See: Kazakhstanskaia pravda, No. 129, 11 June, 2002.
3 Interfax, 5 June, 2002.
4 See: A. Pikaev, Rossiisko-amerikanskie otnoshenia i sobytia 11 sentiabria 2001 goda, SIPRI Yearbook 2001. Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 2002, p. 885.
5 Interfax, 6 June, 2002.
6 Zerkalo (Azerbaijan), 5 April, 2002.
7 Interfax, 15 July 2002.
8 See: Zerkalo, 3 April, 2002.
9 Kommersant, 15 June, 2002.

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