Turkey could replace Ukraine as the main energy transport corridor for Russian natural gas to Europe, according to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
During a gathering late last week with academics, experts and reporters at the Valdai International Discussion Club, a group which meets annually to discuss Russia’s position in the world, Putin said they could consider transporting natural gas to Europe via Turkey, bypassing Ukraine.
Putin’s remarks came on the heels of a meeting last month with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara where the two signed a deal to build part of the South Stream pipeline through Turkish territorial waters in the Black Sea, weeks after Turkey signed a preliminary agreement with European Union countries to launch construction of the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, which is expected to reduce EU dependence on Russia for energy.
Turkey declared South Stream and Nabucco, which will carry Caucasus and Central Asian natural gas, to be complementary projects, not rivals. Some 80 percent of Russia’s natural gas supply to Europe runs through Ukraine. Having faced difficulties in its gas transportation to Europe due to political and economic problems with Ukraine, Russia has sought ways to diversify its energy routes.