Wednesday

18th Sep 2019

Putin says will not build South Stream gas pipeline

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has said he will no longer build the South Stream gas pipeline due to EU opposition.

He made the announcement in Ankara on Monday (1 December) at a press briefing with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Putin (l) and Erdogan in Ankara on Monday: a new axis of 'dear friends'? (Photo: kremlin.ru)

“We believe that in the current conditions Russia cannot continue with the realisation of this project [South Stream],” Putin said.

“Bearing in mind that you need to construct the pipeline under the Black Sea, we cannot begin construction so long as we do not have permission from Bulgaria. To begin construction in the sea, get to the Bulgarian beach, then stop - it would be ridiculous”, he added.

“The position of the European Commission was not constructive … If Europe does not want to realise it, well, then, it won’t be realised”.

South Stream was to bring Russian gas to Austria and Italy via the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary from 2016.

In strategic terms, it was to increase EU dependence on Russian energy and boost Russian influence in participating states.

It would also have harmed Ukraine by bypassing its gas transit system.

But the European Commission threatened to launch legal action on grounds that South Stream violates EU anti-monopoly laws, with Bulgaria halting construction in August.

Putin said his decision will cost the EU.

He noted that the South Stream consortium - which includes French, German, and Italian firms - has already spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” on the project.

He added that Germany, which agreed to build the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea, now benefits from some of the lowest gas prices in Europe.

He also urged Bulgaria to seek compensation for lost revenues.

“If Bulgaria is prevented from behaving as a sovereign state, then at least let them ask for money from the European Commission for lost income - the direct budget revenues that Bulgaria would have had from [gas] transit were at least €400 million a year”.

The death of South Stream should make it easier for the EU to construct a competing project - the so-called Tanap gas pipeline from Azerbaijan via Turkey to south-east Europe.

But Putin on Monday also announced a new energy partnership with Turkey, amid EU concern over Erdogan’s future loyalties.

New Putin-Erdogan axis?

The Russian leader said he will add an extra branch to his existing Blue Stream gas pipeline to Turkey and build a new storage and trading “hub” on the Turkish-Greek border.

The two leaders also noted that plans for Russian firm Rosatom to build a $20 billion nuclear power plant in Turkey are proceeding full speed ahead.

For his part, Erdogan urged Putin to give better treatment to Crimean Tatars, a Turkic ethnic minority.

Russia annexed Crimea in March and launched a crackdown on the Tatars, who oppose Russian rule.

But the Turkish leader took a soft line on Russia’s war on Ukraine. Referring to Putin as his “dear friend”, he said only that the conflict must be "resolved within the framework of international law”.

Erdogan also complained that Europe is not doing enough to help with Syrian refugees.

He noted that Turkey has spent $5 billion on the 1.6 million Syrians who fled across the Turkish border.

“So, what support has come to us from around the world? I tell you: $200 million. How many asylum seekers has all of Europe taken in? Dear friends: 130,000”, he said.

Hungary moves ahead with South Stream pipeline

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has reiterated his support for the Russian South Stream gas pipeline after parliament gave the green light to a law which paves the way for construction.

Juncker calls Putin's bluff on South Stream

EU commission chief Juncker has put the ball in Moscow's court over its ditched gas pipeline project, South Stream, and said Russia is a "strategic problem" for Europe.

Opinion

Bulgaria’s turn to the West

High-profile visits by John Kerry and his British counterpart Philip Hammond have left many puzzled why Sofia is suddenly in the spotlight.

Column

These are the crunch issues for 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. These are the crunch issues for 2019-2024 EU commission
  2. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  3. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing
  4. Trumpworld In Europe
  5. How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires
  6. Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal
  7. EU must give full support to Ukraine to dissuade Kremlin
  8. EU divided on how to protect rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us