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
The news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has bent under Trump’s pressure, deciding to spend government funds on the construction of the first German terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas, has traversed the newswire of most international news agencies. Interpretations of Merkel’s move have framed it as an attempt to avoid Washington’s sanctions against Nord Stream-2. Geostrategic bargains are part of Merkel’s move, but possibly not the core truth behind it. The fact of the matter is that it is odd for the largest EU economy and largest gas consumer in the EU not to have access via import terminals to the global LNG market. In the face of growing dependence on Russian pipeline gas, this self-imposed restraint can hardly constitute a sensible policy.