Could Russia take on Turkey? - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

Could Russia take on Turkey?

Nowadays there are serious developments between Turkey and Russia. Since the beginning the two countries took a different approach to the incidents in Syria.

Turkey was defending that the resolution in Syria would only be possible without Syrian leader Bashar Assad, whereas Russia has been the biggest supporter of Assad.

Turkey and Russia taking opposite stances on the Syrian issue didn't reflect this disintegration on economic relations. Actually, it wouldn't be wrong to say that because of this situation Russia is more afraid to give up Turkey.

Because, with the Ukrainian crisis Russia, which became the object of the EU and U.S.'s critical thunderbolts, faced a heavy economic embargo.

In such an atmosphere having close contact with Turkey, its neighbor, which it saw as a gateway to accessing global markets, and to which it has been exporting natural gas, was among the wise moves of the Russians who know chess well.

Giving up the South Stream Project because of the Ukrainian crisis, moreover Russian President Vladimir Putin stating this during his visit to Turkey were steps taken with a concern to give a message to Europe and the U.S.

But because of Turkey's determined attitude in December on the Turkish Stream Project and the demand for a discount on the price of natural gas, which was announced personally by Putin, it seems that Russia is changing the cards during the game.

What will be the future of the Turkish Stream?

The first step to change the cards was taken when Russia announced that it would cancel two of the four pipelines, which would be built within the scope of the Turkish Stream.

In such a situation, 63 billion m3 of the natural gas that was planned to be carried will drop 50 percent, reducing the capacity of the project to 32 billion m3.

In addition to the time that passed regarding the Turkish Stream Project, when we consider Russia's violation of the Turkish airspace in order to support Assad in the last few days, this time we can see that the political dissidence has been affecting Russia's economic relations with Turkey.

So, which country will this situation cost more both economically and politically?

Firstly, the milestones of the Russian economy are oil and natural gas.

The oil and natural gas revenue that has been sustaining the country's economy has already severely declined due to the problems with European countries. The search for new partnerships and new markets are all for this reason.

Namely, even if European countries are dependent on Russia for natural gas, Russia also needs the current European market in order to keep its economy strong.

Just next to Russia there is a country whose economy is growing and with the new energy projects it has been making important moves to become an “energy hub” and thus an actor country in energy matters.

Moreover we are talking about a country that has been politically and economically stable for the last 13 years.

Turkey standing out with the projects like the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) and transferring Northern Iraqi oil and natural gas to Turkey and to other countries through Turkey is the reason behind Russia's efforts to make Greece stronger instead of Turkey during the time that passed over the Turkish Stream.

It appears that Turkey, which has increased its power in the region especially after 2002, becoming a strong player in energy, which shapes global economy, is not a preferable situation for Russia.

Turkey should continue on its path on energy

Russia's Syria intervention, more truly helping Assad, then violating Turkish airspace and the statements about reducing the capacity in the Turkish Stream by half, lead to increased talk that there are black clouds over Turkey-Russia ties. But as per real politics, especially when it is about Russia and Turkey, the comments made lose validity.

Because during this period in which Russia has become highly alienated and is facing a serious downsizing in its economy, it is not going to be a realistic approach to reflect its political dissidence on the economy and especially on energy.

When we consider its current oil and natural gas trade, Russia has to think well what cost it will pay due to its recent steps.

That's why the present economic conditions of the Turkish Stream Project make Turkey irreplaceable for Russia.


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