KAZAN, Russia -- The Tatar Autonomous Republic is an area where minarets rise above the whitewashed kremlin walls, where Muslim villagers have pitched in to construct more than 1,000 mosques over the decade since the Soviet Union fell apart.

One might expect this Volga River region -- where a Turkish company is rebuilding a garish mosque destroyed by Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s -- would be at the heart of Russia's resistance to a possible American-led war against Iraq.

But Tatarstan, as the region is known, offers a glimpse of the curious ways in which oil shapes politics in Russia today. Although the region's petroleum company, Tatneft, has signed contracts to drill 80 wells in Iraq, its regional oil adviser finds it hard to get worked up about the prospects of a war.