Russian-Azerbaijani Relations: All Change after the August War of 2008?

32 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Sep 2009

Date Written: 2009


The headlines are attention grabbing seductively simplistic – "Don’t Let Russia Turn Gas into a New Weapon"; "Russia’s Powerful Weapon: Oil and Natural Gas"; "Russia seeks Global Influence by Exploiting Energy Geopolitics". Recently published books, such as Gazprom: The New Russian Weapon and Power, Energy, and the New Russian Imperialism, lend credence to claims that energy is a tool of Russian foreign policy. Even Condoleeza Rice, the former American Secretary of State, made similar allegations when she chided Russia for "politically motivated efforts to constrain energy supply to Ukraine". Hence, the inescapable conclusion that thanks to its sizeable oil and gas resources and a propensity to deploy these in pursuit of foreign policy objectives, Russia "has gone from the sick man of Europe to boss man". This paper will examine Russian‐Azerbaijani relations since 1992, particularly in the context of the role that energy has played in transforming a relationship based largely on 'securitization' to one founded on 'economization'. It will focus on how and why this evolution occurred, as well as the interplay between strategic and commercial goals of an energy foreign policy. Finally, the paper will also consider the extent to which Russia's war with Georgia in August 2008 has altered the tenor of Russian‐Azerbaijani relations.

Suggested Citation

Sim, Li-Chen, Russian-Azerbaijani Relations: All Change after the August War of 2008? (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Li-Chen Sim (Contact Author)

Zayed University ( email )

P.O. Box 4783
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

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