12 May 2007 - 13:26
  • News Code: 104395

The leaders of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan reached a landmark pipeline deal Saturday that will strengthen Moscow"s control over Central Asia"s energy export routes.

The deal to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast to ship Turkmen natural gas to Western markets via Kazakhstan and Russia is a blow to the U.S. and European countries" efforts to secure reliable sources of oil and gas outside the Middle East that also would be independent from Russian influence.


"We are opening the Caspian route at the request of Turkmenistan," Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the announcement of the deal in the Turkmen city of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian shore.


The deal comes amid increased competition for Turkmenistan"s vast gas reserves since the death last year of President Saparmurat Niyazov, who had signed deals to build export pipelines to power-hungry China.


Turkmenistan is the second-biggest gas producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia, and its vast gas resources are playing an increasingly important role in the geopolitics of the region. Russia now controls the only transit route for Turkmen gas exports to other ex-Soviet states and Europe.


The United States and the European Union have lobbied strongly for a route under the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and Turkey bypassing Russia.


The new pipeline could further boost Russia"s role as a major supplier of oil and gas to Europe and strengthen Western fears that Moscow could use its energy clout for political purposes.



News Code 104395

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