BY MEHMET KARA
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the U.S. and the European Union (EU), which came out against South Stream delivering natural gas to Europe through Ukraine eight years ago, with TurkStream. Now, he has declared that they may set up a major natural gas hub in Turkey to circumvent Western sanctions.
Putin suddenly stated that they may establish a major hub in Turkey for the gas supply to Europe. When he made this statement, he also said that the Russians bear no responsibility for the hike in energy prices faced by Europeans this winter. The hikes are the result of provocations by Western leaders, according to the Russian leader.
This Russia-Western ‘arm-wrestling’ brought Turkey to the forefront. This isn’t the first time that this fight has affected Turkey, making it an important actor in the issue of Russian energy.
PUTIN’S 2014 SURPRISE
Putin also announced at the end of 2014 that a new natural gas pipeline to transport gas to Turkey and Europe would be built. This was the TurkStream Natural Gas Pipeline, which delivers Russian gas to Southeast Europe and Turkey and has become even more important following the cuts to Nord Stream. There were also drawn out discussions of a South Stream pipeline in those days, but pressures by the U.S. and EU on Bulgaria, the planned entrance point for South Stream, prevented progress.
ERDOGAN PROPOSED THE NAME
Putin stated in December 2014 that Russia had canceled the South Stream project, but added that the project ‘hadn’t died’. Putin said the new project would span Turkey instead of Bulgaria and noted that the new name of the project was proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: TurkStream.
Turkey faces important consequences in the Russia-Western conflict, renewed after eight years. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez represented Turkey at the summit where Putin made his gas hub statement. Interestingly, Donmez emphasized at the Turkish- German Energy Summit that many Southeastern European countries are in talks with Turkey to meet their gas demand following Russia’s gas cut to Europe.
MORE THAN JUST A PIPELINE
Creating an energy hub more complicated than implementing a pipeline project. It’s important to convince buyers for the pipeline, but the number of parties involved increases when we are talking about a hub. Then again, everything regarding energy is now completely different than it was in the past.