Russian President Dmitri Medvedev is in Azerbaijan for a two-day visit observers describe as a delicate balancing act.
Inspecting a giant version of the country’s national flag, Medvedev knows Moscow’s own interests are at stake here.
The Russian president’s visit officially revolves around talks on energy supplies and border agreements. But the long-running dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh is also likely to be on the table.
Russia has strong links with Armenia and just two weeks ago signed a deal to extend its military presence there.
Unveiling his giant flag on what was Independence Day for Nagorno-Karabakh, Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev predicted it would one day fly over the disputed region. Armenia immediately warned Azerbaijan against using force.
Azerbaijan’s vast oil and gas reserves give it considerable clout in its dealings with Russia. Observers predict the Azeri attitude could change depending on Russia’s actions in the South Caucasus.