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The presidents of Russia and Turkey Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to continue the project on construction of "Turkish stream," suspended against the backdrop of deteriorating relations between the two countries during the late last year. The agreement was signed by heads of the Ministries of Energy of both countries in Istanbul, where the Russian president came to attend the World Energy Congress. The project involves the construction of two pipeline branches (each a capacity of nearly 16 billion cubic meters) along the bottom of the Black Sea by the end of 2019. The first thread is provided to supply gas to Turkey, and the other is for the European consumers.
Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey (2008 - 2016) Serhiy Korsun comment on what it means for Ukraine and how to defend interests as a transit country for Russian gas to Europe.
"We will lose 16 billion cubic meters of transit"
For us, this is not good news. Signing of the intergovernmental agreement is a serious step that shows that, most likely, at least one branch of the "Turkish Stream" would be launched. And if that happens, we just lose 16 billion cubic meters of gas transit through our territory.
On the other hand, I would not evaluate it that negative this agreement, because there is the question of who will build this pipeline. Neither the Russians nor the Turks have these technologies. In the world, there are few companies in Europe that can do it. I am not sure whether they want to deal with the Russians because of the sanctions.
Maybe we should take some actions and to protect our interests?
I understand that dialogue with Turkey continues. The question of "Turkish stream" is not in the plane of bilateral Russian-Turkish relations, this is not a bilateral project. Europe has also its interests. And Brussels should be completely block this second pipeline of the "Turkish Stream."
Therefore, in my view, today Ukraine's key issue is to intensify negotiations with the EU on a new transit agreement after 2019. And it is absolutely important to consolidate in this agreement that the point of acceptance by Europeans of gas should be the eastern border of Ukraine. In other words, Europeans must conclude a transit agreement for the supply of gas not from "Gazprom," but from Ukraine.
Europeans now receive gas on our western border, and we need to move the point of receiving gas on the eastern border and conclude an agreement on the transit of gas not from "Gazprom" and the EU. If we achieve this, then, firstly, it will destroy another source of corruption, what we have previously accused, and secondly, and most importantly, we will actually become part of the European energy space.
Most of these tasks are key. For now, Putin is doing everything to save us after the 2019 transit role in energy supply to Europe. For this purpose are built "Nord Stream-2" and "Turkish stream".
How would you comment on Putin's statement about cutting oil production to raise the price of "black" gold?
Maintaining high oil prices for Putin is the question of economic and political survival. Russia is not a member of OPEC, but it welcomes political commitment of this organization to negotiate to reduce oil production. Then the price of Brent oil climbed to five dollars, although later the price returned to the previous level.
But in principle, Russia welcomes such steps and even tries to work with Saudi Arabia, using the fact that Riyadh now was in conflict with Washington. The goal of Moscow is the mechanism to achieve reduction in OPEC oil production, and thus higher energy prices. And this, of course, is the danger.
I think this year we increasingly observe such statements. Putin is completely cornered due to the extremely poor economic situation. Next year Russia must refinance 80 billion dollars of loans that were taken earlier. And Putin doe not have this money. So Russia has to cancel the sanction immediately or make money on supplies of oil and gas. So now Putin will go to anything, just to get political and economic dividends later on rising oil prices and increased gas consumption.
Putin came to the World Energy Congress in order to demonstrate Russia's inner coterie that he is not isolated, but he is a significant player signing of contracts. It is just another round of fighting for unlocking the sake of political and economic benefits. So Putin's participation in Congress is a policy with the elements of PR.