Russian History



Azerbaijan, whose location adjacent to the rich oil resources of the Caspian Sea makes it strategically more vital to Russia than Armenia, is the only one of the three Caucasus states to refuse any deployment of Russian troops on its soil. Russia fears the increasing influence of Turkey in Azerbaijan, which, according to national security planners, is a likely bridge for Turkish influence into Central Asia and Russia's Muslim republics to the north and east of Azerbaijan. Because of these factors, Russia has exerted substantial diplomatic and economic pressure on Azerbaijan to reappraise its independent policy. However, former Soviet Politburo member Heydar Aliyev, now president of Azerbaijan, has proven much more independent than Russia expected when it assisted him in becoming head of state in 1993.