Iran-Azerbaijan war will be impossible.... There will be no merging of energy systems if there is to be a war

13.08.23 21:55

The dream of the Armenian revanchists, who still do not give up the hope of realising the "miatsum" of "Artsakh" with the help of the outside world, is a war between Iran and Azerbaijan. They hope that Iranian and Russian weapons will be able to occupy Azerbaijani Karabakh.


But the reality is that the Iranian authorities do not need a war with Azerbaijan today, no matter how much they "love" their Armenian friends. On the contrary, Iran needs not only close economic cooperation with Azerbaijan, but also participation in joint transit projects and maximum integration in those spheres where it is possible, first of all in the energy sector. And integration in the energy sphere is the first and main condition for the impossibility of war between the countries.


Few people remember a very important detail that has escaped the attention of political analysts. The beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war: on the eve of the Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine, the energy systems of Ukraine and Russia, which until then had been working in parallel, were "disconnected", and the Ukrainian energy system began to work synchronously with the EU energy system.


Initially, this work was to be a "temporary experiment". As part of this "experiment", in February 2022 the energy systems of Ukraine and Russia were disconnected and the flow of electricity from one to the other was stopped. As it later turned out, at the time of this disconnection of the energy systems of the two countries, the Kremlin was preparing the beginning of a full-scale aggression against Ukraine. As a result, the "temporary" separation of the energy systems of Ukraine and Russia became permanent. After the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, the final interconnection of the Ukrainian and EU energy systems took place in March 2022. This essentially enabled Ukraine to survive last winter, when a significant part of Ukraine's energy capacity was seized by aggressors or "knocked out" by missile and drone attacks.


This highlights the importance today of integrating the energy systems of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, in addition to joint transit projects on north-south routes. This integration will not only boost the development of the economies of the countries involved, but also make a large-scale military confrontation between them unrealistic.


On 10 August 2023 Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran discussed the project of interconnection of electric power systems of 3 countries (AIR - Azerbaijan-Iran-Russia). This was announced by the Russian Energy Ministry on the basis of the results of bilateral negotiations on the implementation of the AIR project.


The meeting was attended by Pavel Snikkars, Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia, Elnur Soltanov, Deputy Minister of Energy of  Azerbaijan and Homayoun Haeri, Deputy Minister of Energy of Iran. The meeting was also attended by representatives of interested energy companies from the 3 countries.


"To date, the development of the feasibility study of the project continues, a number of stages of the feasibility study have been agreed. Various conditions of power transmission through the power grids of the participating countries are being analysed in detail, as well as the feasibility of building additional power facilitie s," said Pavel Snikkars.


During the meeting, the parties agreed that the feasibility study on the interconnection of the electricity systems of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia should be completed by the end of 2023.


It should be recalled that Iran and Russia have been considering the possibility of exchanging electricity for many years. A preliminary agreement on electricity interconnection was reached in 2016, during a short period when Iran was not u nder Western sanctions related to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear programme.


At that time, two electricity transit routes between Iran and Russia were considered: 1. via Azerbaijan, 2. via Armenia through Georgia.


It is clear that the Armenian lobby would prefer the second option, but it has a "weak link" - Armenia's energy system, which is not only catastrophically out of date, but also tied to an extremely dangerous facility that should have been decommissioned long ago - the Metsamor nuclear power plant.  And there are other political and "military" risks associated with Yerevan's aggressive policies. As a result, the first priority was to connect the energy systems of Iran and Russia through the energy system of Azerbaijan.


In November 2016, Iran's Deputy Energy Minister H. Falahatian reported that there is a possibility of up to 500 MW of exchange between Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan, if the infrastructure is created.  In 2019, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement on the joint development of the feasibility study of the North-South energy corridor project between the energy systems of the three countries.


The feasibility study was due to be completed within a year, but the project was again stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


In February 2022, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the AIR project was discussed in the margins of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha. At that time, a tripartite meeting was held at the level of the energy ministers of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan to discuss the preparation of the project feasibility study. It was proposed to hold a meeting with the participation of Monenco Iran, the company responsible for the feasibility study of the project, as well as the energy ministries of all 3 countries and relevant energy companies. In November 2022, the head of Iran's Energy Ministry, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, said that Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia would soon implement the power exchange plan.


At the time, the head of Iran's energy ministry said that the initial synchronisation with the power grids of Iran and Russia had been completed and technical measures had been taken for the full synchronisation of the power grids between Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. The "involvement" of Armenia in the "synchronisation of power grids" project by the head of Iran's Energy Ministry is no coincidence - there is no doubt that sooner or later a peace treaty will be signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and then nothing will prevent Yerevan from joining regional energy projects.


In December 2002, Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov met with Ali Akbar Mehrabian. At that time, the Russian Minister urged to intensify work on the interconnection of the energy systems of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, noting at the same time that the priority should be the sustainability of the parallel operation of the energy systems of Russia and Iran. And this work, as evidenced by the results of the trilateral meeting, was greatly intensified with the participation of Azerbaijan.


By all indications, the work on the unification of the energy systems will lead to their full integration in the near future, and the flow of electricity between Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia will begin. At the same time, the representatives of the "belligerent" Iranian IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) have  recently greatly reduced the level of their anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric. Even their "outrage" at the "genocide of the Armenians of blockaded Artsakh", which the separatists in Khankendi were clearly hoping for, has been muted.


Considering that the IRGC has been the main "military provocateur" of tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan, this is a sure sign that war can be completely removed from the agenda of relations between the two countries. Especially if there is a merger of the energy systems of Iran and Azerbaijan.



Aleksandre Chkheidze 

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