Russia Rushes To Seal Ukraine-Bypassing Gas Pipeline: Lavrov Pays Bulgaria A Visit

Tyler Durden's picture

As we remarked two weeks ago, when observing the recent developments surrounding the suddenly all-important South Stream gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine entirely, and instead traversing the Black Sea before crossing Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and terminating in the Austrian central European gas hub of Baumgarten, we said that all of Europe is suddenly focused on if and how Russia will make headway with a project that may be the most important one for not only Europe's energy future but the impact Russia will continue to have over Germany et al. And of course, Ukraine. Because should Russia find a way to completely bypass Kiev as a traditional transit hub for Russian gas, it would make the country, and its ongoing civil war, completely irrelevant not only for Russia, but worse, for Europe, the IMF, and Ukraine's staunch western "supporters and allies" as well.

Showing just how Europe perceives the Russian "South Stream" threat was a comment from a recent NYT article, in which Günther Oettinger, Europe’s top energy official, was quoted as saying that the Ukraine crisis “has slowed down our progress on South Stream considerably... We can’t just give in to the Russians every time.” Alas, since the Russians control the all important gas, Europe has zero choice.

This explains why even as the western media finally remembered over the weekend there was a Ukraine civil war going on following an advance by the Kiev army to retake some rebel strongholds in the Donbas region, with some wondering what if anything Putin would do in retaliation, what Putin, or rather his envoy Sergei Lavrov were actually doing, was completely ignoring the Ukraine situation (where the West has long since conceded the loss of Crimea to the Kremlin) and instead focusing on securing the successful launch of the South Stream (remember: the second South Stream goes online, Ukraine becomes irrelevant). And since Russia already signed another historic agreement with Austria in June, which positioned the AAA-country (with some surprising emerging bank troubles subsequently) squarely against its fellow European peers, it was the turn of the other South Stream countries, namely Bulgaria.

As Reuters reported, all construction timelines for the South Stream pipeline are on track and the European Union should restart talks about the project, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on a visit to Bulgaria on Monday.   

Bulgaria has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian-backed project, whose construction has stoked tensions between the West and Moscow, especially in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea.


But Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's government suspended work last month on its section of the pipeline at the behest of Brussels, pending a ruling on whether the project violates EU law.

Which maybe sheds some light on why in June Bulgaria also experienced the biggest bank run in 17 years, culminating with the nationalization of the 4th largest bank, and also led to the president announcing his early resignation.

So in the Bulgarian power vacuum, the domestic foreign minister Kristian Vigenin said that the "pipeline is of interest to EU, its construction must comply with European laws" during a briefing with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. He also said that Bulgaria seeks a quick resumption of South Stream, something which means Europe will have to try harder in its try to prevent a pipeline bypassing its now very substantial Ukraine investment. 

Lavrov added that South Stream agreements were signed long ago, before EU adopted unbundling legislation; such laws can’t be retroactively applied. The Russian foreign minister said Russia expects EU to apply single standards to all pipelines.

And since it is not just Bulgaria but Serbia, we also got this:


And from Itar-Tass:

Gas can run through Kosovo by the South Stream pipeline, according to materials, timed to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s visit to Russia.


“An issue is being studied to create a network in Kosovo based on long-term contracts on Russian natural gas supplies,” the materials say.


Two branches are planning to be built - to Serbian Republic and Croatia, the materials say.


At present, Russia’s-led South Stream gas branch is expected to run through Macedonia. The Serbian leadership upheld this idea.


South Stream is Gazprom’s global infrastructure project for the construction of a gas pipeline that will run via the bottom of the Black Sea to the countries of Southern and Central Europe with an aim to diversify routes for exporting natural gas and exclude transit risks. The ground section of the South Stream pipeline will run across Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria. The designed capacity of the pipeline is 63 billion cubic metres. The pipeline is planned to be commissioned in late 2015.

In other words, the great cold war 2.0 fight for Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe is on. Because while on one hand we reported that during the weekend, it was none other than France which vocally came out against US Dollar hegemony and thus was forced to gravitate toward the Eurasian (China/Russian) camp, it is the events in Eastern Europe in the next several months that will define European energy geopolitics for the decades to come.

Look for many more fireworks in Bulgaria and the other South Stream countries over the coming weeks as the fate of the South Stream is determined behind the scenes.

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Latina Lover's picture

Putin: Queen to King 2


For most current news on the Ukrainian Geopolitical play, see



Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Fun fact: The word Bulgaria originates from the word Volga.  You know, that big river many Russian cities are situated on.

Ghordius's picture

another fun fact: the Bulgarian_Empire was twice the key player of the region. once, Russia and the Byzantines had their hands in it's demise. the other time, the Mongol hordes

Manthong's picture

The poor Ukrainians are screwed just about any way you slice it.. again.

At least they have their US backed Nazi’s to comfort them.

They are like the lovable ones on “Hogan’s Heroes”, aren’t they?

Or are they like the mischievous ones in Illinois from “Blues Brothers”?

Bananamerican's picture

I wonder if the political leadership of Bulgaria and Austria have read "confessions of an economic Hitman"?

strannick's picture

America desperate for war to deflect responsibility from its financial malfeasance. Fine France -BNP-, steal Germany's gold. Spy on them both.  Instigate Uktainian war. Blame Putin, blame Russia. Train ISIS in Jordan. Blame Muslims. America ruins the world to rule it.

Oracle 911's picture

Well, America got it. The problem for them (I'm from Europe), it is actually a financial-economical-informational war, which is on for at least 5 years.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

America has been hijacked via its government and media.

It is run by an Oligarchy, that got there via a hierarchy of leveraged takeovers, accompanied by the propaganda of the MSM and lulled into comfortable numbness by its infotainment business.

We've become willfully fat, lazy, uninformed and scared, and deserve the government we got.

Years from now our children and grandchildren will ask us what WE did about it... besides 'Nothing' or just vent our rage on blog sites, rather than organize and march.

luftmensch's picture

not just America has been hijacked, the vast majority of the world.

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles"

RaceToTheBottom's picture

The US has modified their diplomatic cookie recipes to include marijuana.....

Arius's picture

"look for more fireworks in Bulgaria"

How about look for more fireworks everywhere in the World... it will be tougher to pick the countries without fireworks ... it is the technology stupid!


I guess after Lavrov is always Kerry .... then they start negotiating ... come up with a peace piece of paper which will hold one week ... then game on again ....

yeah right .. it is those cycles - what am i thinking ???

bitHedge's picture

It actually comes from the Bulgar tribe that conquered the region from the Byzantine empire. They came through southern Russia/Ukraine/Crimea before settling in Bulgaria and mixing with the Slavic and Tracian/Hellinic tribes in the region. The word Bulgar is also know to mean one of mixed origins, due to the heterogenous nature of the southern Balkans.

Manthong's picture

Balkanization.. bad for the Balkans.. good for the US.. bad for Ukraine.. good for Iraq and Palestine?

And if Scotland votes for independence will the US push the UK to deal with Scotland like it is pushing Kiev to deal with East Ukraine?

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

re: Bulgar tribe, and it meaning 'mixed'.  Yes, thats one theory.

But tell me why were there 'Volga Bulgarians' then?

If you are upset by my version, you will be very upset to hear I don't think the Huns originated in Hungary (but did pass through and settle there), nor did the Mongols originate in Mongolia (but did graze there before raiding in the Far East).

Manthong's picture

The only thing that upsets me about the origin of peoples is that most refuse to acknowledge that Obama is not a natural born citizen and that he continues to dictate even after presenting a proven forgery of a birth document.

That is not grounds for a law suit or impeachment, it is grounds for arrest.

shovelhead's picture


And Turkeys didn't originate in Turkey either.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I'm 99.9% certain that I don't have to read the blogs below, to know that no one will have noticed the obvious:  With this path (via Serbia), any US/Saudi attempts for a pipeline from the ME via Turkey, would also have to go via Serbia.

IOW, the Ruskies have "cut them off at the pass".  Nicely, played... 3 moves ahead: "Discovered Check".

rwe2late's picture

 Bulgaria,  a NATO member,

part of the so-called "missile shield", with US troops stationed on its soil,

with some EU members subservient to US-made policies,

will be under considerable pressure to renege on the pipeline contract with Russia,

no matter how beneficial it might be to Bulgaria (and other EU members).

Maybe the US can just offer some IMF loans and pro-"democracy" military "aid",

like was given to Kiev.




NoDebt's picture

Romania sitting there like "what are we?  Chopped liver?"

How did they get "bypassed" along with Ukraine?

Ghordius's picture

geography, Black Sea bottom's topography, the fact that Romania is a Latin country while Russia is a "pan-Slavic protector", Bulgaria's notorious pride and... Transsinistria

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Its right there in the name, Romania.  Rome.  Roman.  In this case, Constantinople, the Capital of the Eastern Roman empire, Byzantine Empire, then Ottoman Empire.

Constantinople was referred to as the 'New Rome'.

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

Reading up your ancient history, you will find that the tribes who lived in what we now call Romania were among the fiercest opponents to Roman expansion in the later Republican period. However, they went on to become become amongst Romes most ardent suppiorters, and provided great numbers of men to Legions and auxiliary forces. Hence the namwe handed down to us.

shovelhead's picture

Mountains and vampires.

Soul Glow's picture

Either way it's cut, the US will never have a light sweet crude pipline passing into it, tar sands be damned.  $200/b oil is going to suck for obese Americans who will have to walk suburbia in search of food for the first time.

Ghordius's picture

I remember many poor little villages all across europe where the shops... drove to the people. even little pick-up sized trucks, in some you could even enter one side, shop through, pay and exit on the other entrance of a bus-sized shop. and people could order their needs for the next day. some are still seen, I'm told, in Switzerland and in parts of France

this "either the suburbanite can drive or she is dead, dead, dead" apocalyptic vision is tiring. if it's too expensive to shop personally... well, what about the internet and delivery services?

FlyingDutchman's picture

We still have them here in Belgium, small trucks that serve as driving shops.

And small neighbourhood shops are coming back, slowly but surely and they sometimes do home delivery.

FeralSerf's picture

How does the taxman keep up with them? Are they operated by locals or north Africans or eastern Mediterranean immigrants?

Freddie's picture

Northern Italy was like that last time I was there about 10 years ago.  Small corner shops with fresh food.  People shop in them usually a few times a week and have small refrigs.  Fresh food without GMO and other shit like USA poison.

shovelhead's picture

Back in the 60's there were local bread and milk trucks that made a twice a week delivery when stay at home Moms and single car families were common.

Might become common again if gas prices rise too high to afford two car families.

Pure Evil's picture

Nah, everyone will go online and order their pallet of government cheese which will then be air dropped in the next day by a C-130.

Manbeast Wangdango's picture

3 words, Soulio:

Pizza delivery drones.



Volkodav's picture

Already done that....

First commercial drone pizza delivery   Dodo Pizza


natty light's picture

It will be interesting to see how replenished the underground nat gas storage supply will be this fall; less than 1TCF after last winter.

tvdog's picture

If gas gets too expensive, just get yourself a small motorbike or scooter and a big backpack. People in some countries pay the equivalent of $8 per gallon for gas (due to taxes); they get along. Save your car or truck for when you really need it to haul something big.

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

Here where I sit in southern England it's around £1.29/litre for petrol (gas) or £1.33/lite for diesel, call it around £6 a gallon (Imperial). So that is why I am very happy in my Focus Econetic, getting - I can barely believe it myself - 74mpg average. Just stick to the shifting advice it gives, and keep off the loud pedal. Unbe-fucking-lievable, but true. It's why I sold my Trans-Am, and why I'm so very glad my Zil runs on contam (free, recovered from the tanks of poor sods who misfuel their cars, duty paid and legal). Which means the 74mpg Focus costs more to run than the 7.5 tonne V8 Zil. Funny old world.

But looking  at that Focus, in a way it's not a great help - it just perpetuates the internal combustion engine and lets HMG put up fuel duty to eye-watering levels on a commodity that will now be around much longer. So now I'm grumpy again, bugger!

Al Huxley's picture

It must be tough for the Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians, etc. to decide who they want to align with - 'let's see, we can either get a natural gas pipeline from the Russians, or we can get repeatedly sodomized by the ECB and IMF, and have our banking system threatened every time we show the slightest hint of independent action... what to do, what to do...'

MeMongo's picture

What sucks equally as bad as the" repeated sodomizing " is having the decision made for you!

franzpick's picture

'When We Want Your Decision, We'll Make It For You'

Comte d'herblay's picture

None of these podunk tiny nationalities should be sovereign nations. They need to cooperate, merge, and become one entity.  Maybe then they could exercise some leverage. 

You can't put a little girl in a golf match with Rory McIlroy expect a good result for her. 

Too many tiny principalities value their 'independence' above all else to the detriment of themselves, their children and the futures of all. 

Not that they should be a part of a 20 nation hodgepodge of the EU or the U.S. wherein vastly different entities are assembled that do not belong to each other. e.g.What in hell is Montana doing in a merger of Connecticut and Florida?

But a reasonably well thought out  merger of these---basically boroughs----is a better strategy than what they are now trying to do alone. 

Ghordius's picture

 go tell (this to) the Spartans...

Ignorance is bliss's picture

You mean the Greeks? I guess you are reinforcing his point.

Ghordius's picture

 "Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, obedient to their laws, we lie"

This was written on an epithaph remembering how the 300 fought until death... so that their allies, other small nations, would win their battle, and so the common war against the Persian Empire

clear enough?

Ignorance is bliss's picture bad. Thought you meant when Sparta was defeated by Rome and then when their descendants were defeated by the European Union.

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

Promise me that you're being ironic, please!

BobTheSlob's picture

I think that the Serbs and Croats already tried a united State...I don't think that it ended very well.