Will Moscow take revenge on Ankara via Trans-Caspian gas pipeline?
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 30
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The deterioration of Russia-Turkey relations after the incident with the Russian downed warplane has affected a number of projects.
Among them is the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, envisaging the supply of Russian gas to Turkey.
Proceeding from the numerous statements made by the Russian side, it is clear that Moscow has a serious attitude and does not intend to forgive Ankara its actions and make any compromises.
Russia has already taken some actions in this direction. In particular, a decision was made to suspend a visa-free regime with Turkey and to ban supplying Turkish products to Russia. Moreover, a complex of restrictive measures on cooperation with Turkey in the economic and humanitarian spheres is being worked out.
But Russia can not only deteriorate the bilateral relations, but in revenge create obstacles for the implementation of any projects that could bring Turkey at least some dividends.
The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline may become one of such projects. It envisages the supply of Turkmen gas to the European markets.
Although Russia is not a direct participant in this project, it has repeatedly opposed its implementation, guided by the environmental considerations.
Meanwhile, Turkey, in case of realization of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, will become a transit country enjoying major benefits from transportation of Turkmen gas through its territory.
Aside from that, Turkey, with the help of this project, can gain access to an additional source for gas imports.
The project for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline involves laying a pipeline across the Caspian Sea to the coast of Azerbaijan.
From Azerbaijan the Turkmen gas can be delivered to Turkey, which shares borders with European countries. And the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which is currently under construction, can be used to transport Turkmen gas.
Ankara and Ashgabat already have a framework agreement on cooperation in the supply of Turkmen gas to Turkey and further to Europe, signed 2013.
Prior to the deterioration of relations with Turkey, Russia would see the realization of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline as a serious blow to its interests. This project - a priority for the European Union - is aimed at reducing the Union's dependence on Russian gas.
Therefore, Russia, in order to create obstacles to the project's realization, is using the sole argument it has - the environmental factor.
Although it is clear that this argument has no grounds, it considerably hampers the project's implementation.
After the deterioration of the relations with Turkey, Russia got additional impetus to hinder the implementation of the project. It is not ruled out that for this purpose, Russia can use Iran which shows solidarity with Moscow in "protection of environment" of the Caspian Sea.
Given that against the backdrop of Syrian crisis, Russia and Iran have become closer to each other in recent times, the joint confrontation of these countries to the Trans-Caspian project can significantly strengthen.
Nevertheless, positions and the will of the interested parties are important factors in implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project.
It is obvious that the decision on constructing the gas pipeline is up to the countries through which it runs. Naturally, these countries are not Russia or Iran.
The efforts of the EU which is the end user within the project and can affect its fate, play an important role here.
Aygun Badalova is Trend analyst