The backstage role of Schroeder. President Erdogan seems intent to further expand the impact zone of the S-400 deal – testing the tolerance of his partners in NATO and the EU. Both are contemplating sanctions which seem too lenient to bite yet indicate a path that has no worst-case scenario beyond the realm of the possibility. Volkswagen’s investments in Turkey, with the heavy lobbying of the key Kremlin asset ex-Chancellor Schroeder, inevitably will face huge and potentially escalating tough-to-mitigate political risks. No immediate collapse foreseen – slowly evolving strategic shift To start with – the nature and the timeline of the risk evolve in time. Although no immediate collapse in Turkey is foreseen as part of Erdogan’s departure from Kemal Ataturk’s European and part of the West identity, the
Loss of Ukrainian gas transit does increase the risk of military conflict. In October 2013, I came across an anonymous blogger’s note about Russia forming a separate air assault brigade to stop shale gas development in Eastern Ukraine . It was several months before the Ukrainian revolution of 2014 , and I dismissed the news as fake. However, after the start of combat activities in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, the note made a lot of sense. Coincidentally or not, the gas supply system of Gazprom was ready for the war in Ukraine. For many years Rostov-on-Don and two more provinces of Southern Russia were receiving gas through Eastern Ukraine. In 2007, Gazprom commissioned a bypassing pipeline enabling “to directly supply gas to Russian
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Let us state the publicly known facts and try to assess the business merits of the deal. Bit by bit, slowly and systematically, so that even non-experts can understand. We have a standing valid gas transit contract between Gazexport and Bulgartransgaz, using the current Trans-Balkan Pipeline, until 2030 with “secure” revenues of $ 1.2 billion. This is not the total contract amount, just the ‘ship or pay’ segment, accrued until the end of the contract. This is regardless of whether Gazprom decides to end transit through Ukraine, to take up alternative routes through Turkey, Germany or the North Pole. Cash in hand. Or almost. Giving up on these receivables is a condition sine qua non, set by Gazprom, if we want to enter into the new venture
Versed for decades in the mantras of eternal brotherhood and friendship with the Soviet Union, Bulgarians may find these lines bordering on heresy. Many would not sound the alarm even if the number of Russian speakers tops one million. Even though the immediate risk and threat profile of the rising Russian speaking minority is low, the impact on Bulgarian democracy, the political process, the national security and NATO-EU integration capacity can hardly be ignored or left unnoticed. It is not only the demographic and immigration footprints that are in question – the Bulgarian authorities should be well aware of the number of holders of Russian passports who have Permanent or Temporary Residence Status, as well as the numbers of tourists with extended holiday stay. The Bulgarian state
Vladislav Surkov has enlightened us on the state of mind at the Kremlin. He has been on and off at the top of Putin’s confidants’ list, yet his current status is nowhere near the peak of his influence, some 15 years ago, when he was perceived as the guru in Putin’s entourage, akin to Mikhail Suslov in the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party. Those days are long gone, and the article published in Nezavisimaya Gazetta, although carrying some weight and deserving attention, does not go far enough to challenge the perception of a falling star. The title, The Deep State of Putin (Dolgoe Gosudarstvo Putina), would certainly prompt analytical work in the Russian and Western media, much like in the old days of the Soviet Union, when
We live in a world of post-truth. Everyone has his own “facts,” his own truth. After the annexation of Crimea, Russia annexed the ‘truth’ for the Russian public and proxies around the world. Adding the Crimean Peninsula meant new borders, new territorial waters and new conflicts. Closing the Kerch Strait by building the bridge connecting continental Russia with its new territory meant that large ships are disallowed, effectively imposing illegal control of traffic, blocking access to and from the Ukrainian coast of the Sea of Azov, including the towns of Mariupol and Berdyansk. The EU and U.S. are looking closely and pondering how to respond – from a safe distance, as usual. They will not interfere – except with sedative lecturing. Chancellor Merkel cherishes Nord Stream-2 more than Ukraine as a shield of