Did Putin buy Ankara’s neutrality in the war in Ukraine with a commitment to make Turkey a gas hub for Europe?

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By Elif Selin Calik | –

(Middle East Monitor) – Generating energy takes time, but establishing new diplomatic relations is changing day by day. Even 24 hours is too long to track all these changes in the energy wars of the 21st century. Literally, we saw it in 2020 during the energy price war between Mohammed Bin Salman and Vladimir Putin, as Russia and Saudi Arabia squabbled over oil strategy during the pandemic.

Today, after Europe announced the sanctions against Ukraine, Putin offered to export more gas via Turkey and to turn the country into a regional supply hub for Russian gas exports to the European countries. This is an apparent move to solidify Moscow’s grip on European energy markets.

First, it will probably take about two years to build a new pipeline. Even if this pipeline is completed, the region spanning EU member states would need to invest in the transmission infrastructure that will transport this new natural gas from the southeast.

If the EU wanted to comply with Russia’s post-war supply conditions, or if Russia genuinely wanted to supply natural gas to the EU, it could theoretically buy natural gas through the existing NS1 and NS2, and there is no need for a huge additional investment.

Due to Turkey’s geography, there are no eastern countries where natural gas can be exported; there is no pipeline direction other than the EU direction where the additional natural gas that will arrive in Turkey will go.

However, if this gas pipeline is politically built, even if an LNG liquefaction plant or a blue/green hydrogen production facility is established in the Mediterranean, and exports are attempted for the gas that cannot go to the EU when natural gas arrives in Turkey, the future of possible projects will not be bright in the short term, due to many other factors and will require additional time for investments.

In the meantime, the sale and supply of the basic components of the gas pipeline and/or the LNG export facility to be built will likely be subject to sanctions and, if sanctions are imposed on the companies that will work on the construction of the line, the completion of the project will take a long time compared to a normal project.

To sum up, as was cleverly explained about two years ago by CNBC reporter Patti Domm, the energy war seen in the time of a pandemic, the war was against the United States, in fact. This energy war is also Russia’s first against the United States. Also, Europe, Turkey and Ukraine are all players, but the main players in this war are the United States and Russia. Thus, before chanting or criticizing this new gas pipeline offer, the three other players should above all assess the pros and cons of the new gas route.

Elif Selin Calik is a freelance journalist and researcher. She is a regular contributor to publications such as TRT World, Daily Sabah, Rising Powers in Global Governance and Hurriyet Daily News. She was one of the founders of the In-Depth News department of the Anadolu news agency and participated in the UN COP23 in Bonn as an observer. She holds an MA in Cultural Studies from the International University of Sarajevo and a second MA in Global Diplomacy from SOAS, University of London.

The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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