New deal on legal status of the Caspian Sea

After ten years of negotiations the five states that border the Caspian Sea have agreed on a treaty governing the legal status of the body of water. Up to now only a deal agreed between the Soviet Union and Iran in the 1930s had applied. Commentators analyse Russia's position in settling the dispute.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Last bastion of the Soviet Union has fallen

Even if Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century" he was forced to bring this process to its conclusion, journalist Arkadi Dubnov observes in a blog commentary in Echo of Moscow:

“There was no other way out for him - that's simply the logic of this 'geopolitical catastrophe' that he finds so hard to take. Putin must now refrain from using this populist rhetoric if he wants to avoid being seen as the originator of this 'catastrophe' in the 21st century. ... But Russia has also reaped some benefits from this compromise: freedom of action for its fleet practically everywhere in the Caspian Sea, which will remain common territory apart from the national zones, as well as a ban on foreign military structures (meaning Nato) on the Sea.”

Iswestija (RU) /

A clever move on Russia's part

Russia also has ulterior motives for abandoning its opposition to the construction of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Izvestia surmises:

“At the start Russia demanded that all five adjacent states be asked their opinion regarding pipeline construction. That didn't suit Turkmenistan, which wants to lay a 300 km gas pipeline to Azerbaijan so as to gain access to the European market. ... By accommodating Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan on this matter, Russia sent a signal to the EU that rather than seeking a monopoly for Gazprom on the European market, it is open to competition. That will serve its interests regarding other problems - among them the construction of Nord Stream 2. And 'Transkaspia' will hardly have any impact on Gazprom's leading role in this market.”