Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to Azerbaijan in more than seven years reflected the complex and sometimes strained relationship between the two oil producing countries - highlighted by Azerbaijan’s westward-oriented energy focus. But Moscow is intent on continuing its efforts to keep Azerbaijan in its sphere of influence while sending out warnings that closer ties with the US and Nato would be unwise.

THE surprise one-day visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, raised eyebrows but left questions unanswered over what Mr Putin hoped to gain in his carrot and stick relationship with the oil metropolis of the South Caucasus.

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Professor Stefan Hedlund
Baku has long served as an important hub between markets in Europe and energy riches in the Caspian Sea. Although Moscow has been keen on gaining a foothold, the energy industry in Azerbaijan has been dominated by foreign energy companies
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