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Turkey treads carefully on new gas pipeline with Russia

Ankara doesn’t want to put all of its energy eggs into the Russian basket.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin is pictured during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured) in Ankara December 1, 2014. Putin said on Monday that Moscow could not carry on with the South Stream project if the European Union was opposed to it. Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish President Erdogan, Putin said the European Commission was reluctant to give the green light to the South Stream project.  REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (TURKEY

A new world seemed to be in the making when Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Turkey on Dec. 1. Putin, with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his side, announced that Russia and Turkey would boost their multibillion dollar trade by building a new natural gas pipeline, Turkish Stream. Fed up with the European Union’s foot-dragging, the Russian president canceled the South Stream project, which would have carried Russian natural gas under the Black Sea directly into the European Union via Bulgaria.

Putin hoped to accomplish several objectives through Turkish Stream: to enlist Erdogan as an ally in Moscow’s natural gas negotiations with EU members Greece, Italy and Austria, and to steer Turkey away from the West and in a more pro-Russian direction. Putin’s visit appeared so promising and the two leaders so defiant that one columnist talked about the “two Rambos, Putin and Erdogan,” and how they “were taking on the West.”

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