Sunday

17th Feb 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.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us