Hat tip to Vineyard of the Saker.
President Putin has made an agreement with Germany, and offered an agreement to Turkey, that will enable Russia to serve its natural gas markets in western Europe while retaining the option to shut off Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.
The Russian government plans to expand its North Stream pipeline across the Baltic Sea directly to Germany. This would enable Russia to cut off natural gas to Ukraine and most of the rest of eastern Europe without interrupting its sales to western Europe.
Germany, which is now the financial hub of western Europe, would become the energy hub as well.
Russia has an alternate plan, the South Stream, a pipeline to cross the Black Sea to Bulgaria, but this has been canceled. Instead Russia now hopes to build a Turkish Stream, which would connect directly with European Turkey. Greece and other European countries would have the option of connecting to that pipeline.
The Turkish government also has the ambition of becoming an energy hub. It is in a good position to do this because of its position as the crossroads between Europe and the Greater Middle East. But, for political reasons, Turkey might have to give up plans for other pipelines to connect to Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan if goes along with Russia’s Turkish Stream.
Not everything that is announced gets built, and in any case construction of these pipelines would take several years. But Putin’s strategy could put Russia in a powerful position in regard to Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank, and without firing a shot.