Russia's state-run natural gas company, Gazprom, says it has begun talks on purchasing gas from Azerbaijan.
Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller signed a memorandum of understanding in Moscow Friday with the president of the Azeri State Oil Company, Rovnag Abdullayev, to begin talks on importing gas from 2010.
Azeri gas would flow to Russia via a 200-kilometer pipeline running along the Caspian coast from Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, to the Russian town of Novo-Filya.
The move could have negative implications for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline project, designed to bring Caspian Sea gas to Europe while bypassing Russia.
Last week, the European Union pledged more than $265 million for the project as part of a larger energy plan but it lacks both viable sources of gas and agreement between consortium members.