Outfoxing Russia… Sort of

by Joshua Foust on 3/12/2008

South Stream, the Black Sea cousin to Russia’s clever Nordstream gas pipeline, may not be the unstoppable fait accompli many seem to think it is, according to Vladimir Socor:

South Stream can be halted in the Black Sea by Ukraine and Romania on a legal basis, at no risk to themselves and with appropriate Western support, until access can be opened to Central Asian gas for Nabucco.

The grounds for halting South Stream are familiar from the debate on the merits of EU- and U.S.-backed Nabucco versus Gazprom’s rival project.

He goes on to outline the many reasons why South Stream would be bad news for Europe, Central Asia, and pretty much everyone except Russia. However, these complaints are not new, and while there may be a legal case to be made (I’m not familiar enough with the relevant local laws and treaties to say one way or the other), the political case is what is so worrisome. As I noted the last time the topic of Russia further monopolizing Caspian gas and thus locking out western efforts to diversify export (like Nabucco), there are many political and pragmatic reasons not to antagonize Russia through overt legal action, at least not just yet. Those have yet to be resolved.

So in the meantime, the race between Nabucco and South Stream—which is really the race over who gets to control Europe’s and the Caspian’s gas supplies—continues apace… with South Stream remaining the early favorite.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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