Putin, Bulgarian president tout cultural ties, energy projects

Despite pressure from the West to limit Bulgaria’s energy dependence on Russia, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev met with Putin in Sochi and touted the possibility of direct Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria, as well as the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, both projects that had been canceled but Sofia is now trying to revive. On the nuclear plant, for which Sofia has already had to pay more than 620 million euros to Russian state nuclear company Rosatom for cancelling the project, Radev said he is open to Russian participation in the revived project. Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, who also attended the meeting, claimed Moscow is ready to consider making Bulgaria a hub for transporting Russian natural gas and that such a project could possibly be integrated with the Turkish Stream pipeline, which is currently under construction. Novak said, though, a Russian-sponsored Bulgaria gas hub project would have to received guarantees from both Sofia and Brussels. Moscow previously abandoned its planned South Stream gas pipeline to Bulgaria after the project was found to violate EU energy rules.


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