Caspian Sea Ownership: Not an Issue the U.S. Should Ignore

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been a debate over the legal status of the Caspian Sea: Is it a sea, or is it a lake? And to whom does it belong? The outcome of this debate will have a major impact on the way energy resources are extracted and transported, and by whom—which could have a major impact on U.S. economic and security interests in the region.

This is especially true regarding the completion of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline potentially linking Central Asian energy markets with Europe, bypassing Russia and Iran. During a meeting of the five foreign ministers of the Caspian Sea littoral states in July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that an agreement would be made sometime next year. Although Washington is not involved in the talks, the U.S. should monitor the situation closely, support a peaceful and speedy resolution of Caspian Sea ownership, and offer political support for the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline.

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