azerbaijanAPCO Worldwide has inked a two-month $50K agreement to bolster the image of Azerbaijan, the pro-western former Soviet republic 90 percent Muslim state borders Russia and Iran.

The country’s strategic importance as an energy supplier to the European Union is now front and center due to Moscow’s adventure in Ukraine and U.S./EU threats to sanction Russia’s energy sector in retaliation.

Russia supplies a third of gas and a quarter of oil consumption of the EU member states.

Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine hosted Azerbaijan ambassador Elin Suleymanov at an energy forum in Tulsa on April 14.

The program discussed plans to expand a pipeline that currently transports Azerbaijan gas to Turkey to Italy in five years.

Bridenstine says increased EU energy exports from the US and countries such as Azerbaijan are ways to end Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and to stop “feathering the nests of Putin and his kleptocrat Kremlin cronies.’

Houston-based Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan funds APCO’s contract.

The Azeri state oil company and Practical Solutions Group, a business consultancy based in Azerbaijans capital city of Baku, are founding members of the Assembly.