Swiss Confederation President Didier Burkhalter (L) is welcomed by Slovakian President Andrej Kiska (R) upon arrival on December 9, 2014 at the presidential palace in Bratislava. AFP PHOTO / SAMUEL KUBANI
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Eastern European countries dependent on Russian gas are scrambling for alternatives after President Vladimir Putin blindsided them with a decision to scrap a pipeline bypassing Ukraine.The 3,500-kilometer route from the Shah Deniz field would have initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters a year, just one-sixth of South Stream's capacity.Eastern Europe is now looking to link its network to facilitate the flow of gas through the region.Putin's alternative to the $45 billion South Stream project is building a pipeline to Turkey and then shipping gas overland to Greece and on to the rest of Europe, a plan that is seen as unrealistic.The biggest problem for eastern Europe remains finding volume sufficient to replace South Stream, which would have delivered 63 billion cubic meters of gas annually.On Wednesday, the European Commission met eight member states who took part in South Stream on the margins of a meeting to discuss the bloc's energy plans for the next decade.
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