Cooperation and Conflict Between Russia and the West in the Caspian Area

Led by Pavel K. Baev

May 2011 – May 2011

Research in this area began in 2001 with a pilot project on ‘Russia’s Energy Complex and Russian State-Building’ (see in the 'past projects'). It involved exploring a wide range of topics and issues related to the state-building role of the Russian energy complex. Further research in 2002 and consultations with STATOIL and Norsk Hydro helped to identify the problems that are the most dynamic, generate heavy political impact and remain under-evaluated.

The Petropol programme of the Norwegian Research Council decided that the focus of the project has to be narrowed down towards ther Caspian area, while the research on the impact of energy-related issues upon the relations between Russia and Europe has to be conducted in other projects (see 'Russia and EWurope: geopolitics and geo-economics').

Accordingly, the main aim of this research project is defined as following:

to evaluate the role of the energy complex in defining Russia’s key national interests in the Caspian area, in setting priorities for their advancement, and in determining the guidelines for foreign and security policy.

This aim involves building solid expertise base, available for Norwegian policy-makers and interest groups, and translates into three main goals of the project:

• To review the impact of the dynamically evolving energy complex on setting major priorities in Russia’s foreign policy;
• To evaluate the interplay between Russia’s geo-political and geo-economical interests in the Caspian area in the broad context of cooperation/competition with the West;
• To assess the risks to Western energy and security interests in the Caspian area stemming from local instabilities and Russian policies.

These goals involve a set of specific research questions that were revised in the course of implementation but generally are identified as following:

  • What interests of the energy complex fit best into current Russia’s foreign policy and what contradictions could emerge in the future?
  • Where are the issue-areas of potential conflict between President Putin’s vision of a ‘Westernized’ Russia and the interests of the energy complex?
  • How does the US-led anti-terrorist war change Russia’s ability to project power and promote its influence in the Caspian Area?
  • How does military power help in securing control over production and transportation of Caspian energy resources?
  • To what degree do Russia’s attempts at conflict management in the Caucasus and Central Asia put at risk Western energy and security interests?
  • What is the impact of the war in Chechnya on Russia’s ambitions – and its ability to achieve them – regarding the energy resources of the Caspian area?

The project design involves a flexible combination of one central theme and smaller projects of various duration and character: policy-oriented and academic, expertise-building and educational. Based on a common background, they will initially explore a range of research questions, then – in the second stage – will be more closely tied together, leading – in the third and fourth stages – to a monograph with a clear analytical focus and solid academic content.

At the initial stage of the project (October 2002 – June 2003), the main efforts were concentrated on building networks and collecting data, while the research was focused on the role of energy exports in facilitating Russia’s rapprochement with Europe.
At the second stage of the project (July 2003 – June 2004), networks were further developed and the focus of research was shifted towards the Caspian area with particular attention to the multiple crises in the Caucasus.
At the third stage (July 2004 – June 2005), in-depth research on the whole range of project goals generated many promising results presented in both academic and policy-oriented publications.
In the final stage of the project (July-December 2005), these results were used for framing the aims and goals for a new cooperative (ECON-NUPI-FFI-PRIO) research project ‘The Caspian petroleum region: Present-day risks and longer-term opportunities’, while the process of tying together the findings in a book manuscript has been started with the aim of completing by mid-2006.

Results in 2003

Results in 2004 (mid-year)

Final resultsfor 2005

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