Russia is putting the moves on Azerbaijan, as the South Caucasus country’s two neighbors, Georgia and Armenia, prepare to formalize partnerships with rival unions. But ever the pragmatic belle, Baku is resisting Russia’s advances.
While Azerbaijan’s neighbors, Georgia and Armenia, already are committed to deepening ties with the European Union (on June 27) and the Eurasian Economic Union (by July 1), respectively, Azerbaijan, the largest and richest country in the South Caucasus, remains up for grabs.
Suitors from the Kremlin have lined up to woo Baku. The first visit occurred in early June when Russian Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev arrived in the Azerbaijani capital to chat about economic cooperation and invited Azerbaijan to join the Eurasian Economic Union. Then, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dropped in on June 18-19 for a continuation of what he described as “a most active dialogue.” A triple whammy of visits will take place late this month, with trips by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees military-industrial matters, Development Minister Irog Slyunayev and State Duma Speaker Sergei Narishkin.
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