Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

‘Clarity on Caspian has given Russia the opportunity to control Sea of Azov,’ Moscow commentator says

Occupied territories in Ukraine and near its western border. Map base: Google Maps, map: Euromaidan Press
‘Clarity on Caspian has given Russia the opportunity to control Sea of Azov,’ Moscow commentator says
Edited by: A. N.

Analysts have offered a variety of reasons for the breakthrough on the Caspian – increased Russian concerns about security and a desire to keep US forces out of that region, Iranian interests in having a backdoor if Middle East deteriorates, and a fall in gas prices which has made Moscow less worried about the impact of a Trans-Caspian pipeline.

But Versiya analyst Ruslan Gorevoy suggests there is another and perhaps more compelling reason: “Clarity on the Caspian,” he argues today, “has given Russia the chance to control the Sea of Azov,” a critical new theater in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

According to the Moscow commentator, the littoral states were unable to agree to a convention on the Caspian because they disagreed as to whether it was a sea or an inland body of water. Now, they have decided that “the Caspian is ‘an intra-continental body of water’ of five countries. This is a special legal status, neither a sea nor a lake.”

Immediately, Gorevoy says, that precludes the opening of any American or Turkish bases on its shores, while allowing Russia and the other littoral states freedom of action there. But “however paradoxical this may sound,” the Caspian accord also “closes the question about the status of the Sea of Azov.”

That is because there is “a most direct” connection between the Caspian and the Sea of Azov, the commentator continues. “The Sea of Azov was considered an internal body of water of the USSR and its status was thus beyond the reach of international treaties.”The Situation in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine on August 20, 2018 (Image:

After the USSR disintegrated, the sea was not subject to demarcation by the two littoral states, Russia and Ukraine. Instead, “the sea remained internal for the two.” Then, the Maidan occurred in Kyiv, Crimea was annexed by Russia, and the Crimean Bridge was built across the Kerch Straits.

As a result, the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk lost a significant part of their earnings.” Ukraine continued seizing vessels visiting Crimea in violation of Ukrainian laws, while “Russian naval vessels began to play on the nerves of Ukrainian [and international] ship owners” going to the Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov by forcing inspections and long delays.  All that has led Kyiv to look for a way out.

Its view is that “now that the Volga-Don canal allows ships to go from the Caspian to the Sea of Azov and back, that body of water cannot be considered internal.” And that means, Ukrainian analysts say, that it is entirely reasonable that NATO ships should enter the sea to ensure the free passage of ships to and from Ukrainian ports.

“As long as the status of the Caspian remained undefined, American and European destroyers could completely legally go from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov,” Gorevoy continues.

But now that the Caspian littoral states have signed the accord, they cannot do so because the Caspian isn’t an international body of water subject to the rules of the Law of the Sea. Instead, it too is an internal body of water. “For Moscow, this is an unqualified plus,” one more way that the Caspian accord will transform geopolitics in Russia’s south.

Read More:

Edited by: A. N.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Will the West continue to support Ukraine?
    • Know what moves the world.
    • Premium journalism from across Europe.
    • Tailored to your needs, translated into English.
    Special discount
    for Euromaidan Press readers
    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!

    Related Posts