As talk of a potential Nagorno-Karabakh deal gains momentum, Azerbaijan appears to be making serious overtures toward Russia in hopes that the Kremlin will push Armenia to make key concessions, analysts in Baku believe. As an incentive, Azerbaijan is playing one of its most strategic cards - cooperation in the natural gas sector.
During a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on April 17, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev stated that he does "not see any restriction" on possible sales of Azerbaijani gas to Russia. The assertion has been understood to include sales of gas from Stage 2 of the multilateral Shah Deniz project, which is expected to yield 14-16 billion cubic meters of gas per year. He also indicated that oil transportation via the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline could also increase.