Russian navy to provide security
Russian naval ships are to watch over the extraction of oil and other bio-resources in the disputed regions of the Caspian sea. In the meantime, Russian sailors are training in the waters of the Caspian, which neighbouring states have so far failed to demarcate.
In 2003, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, all of which are in the Caspian region, signed a framework convention called the “Tehran Convention”, on the protection of the Caspian sea. Despite the signing of the convention, neighbouring countries in the Caspian region have failed to agree on the legal status of their common sea.
Iran has suggested the sharing of the Caspian into equal parts, with each nation owning 20 per cent. Azerbaijan has rejected such a division, because it could lead to a third of the country’s Caspian waters coming under the jurisdiction of Iran.
There is now a possibility of a peaceful and just solution of the problem. Kazakhstan and Russia have signed an agreement on the sharing of the Caspian seabed in the northern part, in order to have the sovereign right for the use of the seabed. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have also signed a similar agreement, and Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have agreed the borders of their parts of the Caspian seabed.
But the problems of the protection of Russia’s interests in the Caspian remain. Listen to what Colonel Igor Gorbul, an aide to the commander of the Southern Military District and head of the press seervice of the District told VOR on the issue:
"The Russian navy ships of the Caspian Fleet, comprising the gun boat Astrakhan and a sea tug, have sailed into the Caspian sea, where they are to carry out military duties and to ensure the military presence of Russia in thqt important region. The ships are to protect Russian vessels, and ensure the safety of the country’s oil producing industry against possible threat, as well a s watch over the production of oil and other bio-resources in the disputed regions of the sea. In carrying out these duties, the crews of the gun boat and the sea tug, together with the marines, who are taking part in the exercise, will work on how to repel an attack by imaginary terrorists," Colonel Igor Gorbul said.
The dispatch of navy ships to the Caspian by Russia is not mere saber rattling, but a logical and necessary step, says Sergei Chernyakhovsky, a political commentator:
"Countries create naval fleets to protect their merchant vessels and to defend shipping industries against any hostile acts from pirates or other hostile forces. It is also quite normal that these skills should be practiced," said Chernyakhovsky.
"Russia is in such a position that it must again assert its rights. Hence the country, more than other nations, should act fimly to protect its national interests. Negotiations should be held over the Caspian sea but Russia should negotiate from a position of strength," Sergei Chernuavsky said.