When Putin abruptly scuppered plans for the South Stream pipeline last December, many hailed it as a defeat for Moscow. Meanwhile, Vlad was looking further south, concurrently announcing his intention to instead extend a pipeline spur into Turkey. Ankara secured a discounted price for gas while Russia got a new route through which to sell its gas to Europe. But even then Turkey’s energy minister was hedging, saying that it was still too early “to pronounce the final word on these matters today.”Now, three months later, Turkey seems to be stalling negotiations. Reuters reports:
Russian gas exporter Gazprom said in January it planned to build an undersea gas pipeline with the same capacity to an as-yet unbuilt hub on the Turkish-Greek border by the end of 2016.But officials in Ankara said that timeframe for the project, known informally as Turkish Stream, was unrealistic. “The issue is not Turkish Stream alone, this is a whole package for Turkey’s energy needs. We need to be a little bit patient,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters.
These recent comments are as much a negotiating tactic as they are an expression of doubt over increasing reliance on Russian gas. The Turks have clearly been paying attention to how Russia has wielded the energy weapon with abandon, especially in the past year, and it cannot have made them feel good about entering into an over-exclusive relationship with such a potentially abusive partner.