Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with the government at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO/RIA NOVOSTI/ALEXEI DRUZHININ
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Russia watchers are rightly focusing on the latest brittle cease-fire in Ukraine, seeking to discern President Vladimir Putin's intentions there.This new "Turkish Stream" is an alternative to the "South Stream" Black Sea pipeline that extended from Russia to Bulgaria – a project that the Kremlin abandoned in December, in response to the sanctions imposed by the European Union after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.The South Stream project failed to comply with European Union competition and energy directives, and the announcement of the $12 billion Turkish Stream is likely to reinforce Russia's reputation as an unreliable partner, thus accelerating Europe's search for alternate supply sources. Indeed, in risking his most lucrative market, Putin is exhibiting an almost suicidal disregard for the Russian economy – apparently for no other reason than to cement Russia's enmity with Ukraine. The continent happens to rely on Russia for some 30 percent of the natural gas it consumes, 80 percent of which is transported through Ukraine.Contrary to what Putin seems to believe, neither Europe nor Ukraine is likely to be the biggest loser in Russia's effort to redirect its gas exports.
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