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Russia: Minister Suggests Multinational Caspian Force

Moscow, 10 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Interfax reports that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today suggested the possibility of creating a multinational defense force in the resource-rich Caspian Sea. Ivanov is in the city of Kaspiisk in Russia's Daghestan region to observe large-scale naval maneuvers in the disputed Caspian waters.

Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are also participating in the maneuvers, which are to last through 15 August. The other two coastal countries, Iran and Turkmenistan, declined to take part.

The five littoral nations have failed to agree on how to divide up the Caspian's resources.

Disputes over the Caspian already have led to concerns of military conflict in the region, where all five countries have gunboats regularly on patrol.