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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Moscow is pressuring Ankara for guarantees for the implementation of the “Turkish stream”

The agreement on the construction of “Turkish stream”, which for so long tried to negotiate Ankara and Moscow finally signed. Key plans to bypass Ukraine’s gas pipeline is increasingly taking shape. However, the story of how long Russia is trying to persuade Turkey of the benefits of this project, it looks absurd.

Relations between Russia and Turkey exactly one year described a full circle.

“Recent events have clearly shown that placing a strategic goal, the Kremlin has persistently bends the line, despite any obstacles”

Just these days ago friendly for many years relations between the two countries began to sharply cool off in connection with the Russian military operation in Syria. It ended, as we know, the destruction of the Turkish air force Russian bomber, that he has transferred the situation of the freezing point to the ignition.

The past six months, relations between Russia and Turkey was gradually restored. New the starting point was apologize to Ankara for the downed aircraft, and a powerful impetus to bilateral relations received after a failed military coup. By many accounts, the Kremlin was directly put his hand to Erdogan to stay in power, by providing that crucial information at the right time.

The conclusion for the year was Vladimir Putin’s visit to Istanbul to attend the world energy Congress, to meet with the President of Turkey and attend the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on the construction of “Turkish stream.”

This trip, among other things, is highly symbolic for bilateral relations between the two countries.

Russia and Turkey share many topics of varying degrees of closeness and contradictions: from Syria to the food embargo, from the plant to the missile defense system.

However, Putin’s visit demonstrated the priorities of Russia, and those in the relations with Turkey, obviously, is the “Turkish stream”. That is, the creation of alternative ways of gas supply to Europe, South in this case, and deliverance from dependence on gas transit through Ukrainian territory.

Difficulties with the implementation of the “Turkish stream” appeared shortly after his sudden and triumphant announcement in December 2014. The reason was the bureaucratic delay in the Turkish side. As a result, even before the crisis in Russian-Turkish relations project by the end of summer 2015, in fact, was in a coma, and the subsequent sharp deterioration in relations gave observers reason to say that “Turkish stream” is dead, and Russia’s attempts to diversify routes of gas supplies to Europe failed.

Recent events have clearly shown that placing a strategic goal, the Kremlin has persistently bends the line, no matter what obstacles (even such as being on the brink of war with the country-partner). And in the end gets her.

One can only guess what arguments are used by Moscow in dealing with such a difficult partner, Turkey. There is reason to believe that the Kremlin no longer relies solely on its good will and common sense.

Announcing the lifting of the food embargo and agreement on a discount on gas after signing of the intergovernmental agreement on the construction of two branches of the gas pipeline under the Black sea give reason to think that the Kremlin in its relations with Turkey now prefers to lay in the arrangement a sufficient number of fuses, guaranteeing the execution of the plan. The main declared in the agreement goal is the construction of “Turkish stream” by December 2019 must be made unconditionally.

The situation from a rational point of view seems absurd.

It would seem that Turkey as no one else was interested in becoming the largest gas hub, which will provide her additional leverage over the South (and not only) Europe. However, it almost torpedoed the project. Was lost more than a year, Russia required a lot of patience and a lot of additional efforts to return the project to work the rails.

The situation in a somewhat caricatured form repeats the Soviet practice, when the Soviet Union the whole country were directed, and sometimes an iron hand was in the “bright future”. Only if in those days it was about idealistic projects, the benefit of which has not always been obvious, but now Russia has to maintain a particular pressure initiative is obviously beneficial for its partners projects: no, you will be the main gas hub for Europe, no, we’re good neighbors with developed diverse relationships, and to fight will not.

In a sense, the history with the construction of “Turkish stream” is the clearest way demonstrates a decrease in the level of pragmatism and rationality in contemporary international relations. No difference with Europe, which the third year has been self-inflicted in the form of anti-Russian sanctions, is not here.

The question is whether Russia will be enough to work in such conditions, when almost each kind word need to be enforced by gun.


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