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Putin scraps South Stream pipeline project

December 4th, 2014

Commentators on both the left and the right agree that Moscow’s decision to scrap the South Stream pipeline project will weaken Europe and Hungary in terms of safe energy supply.

Putin’s announcement to stop the South Stream pipeline project is a tactical withdrawal, Gábor Stier comments in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government columnist believes that the latest Russian move is part of the war for geopolitical and economic domination between the US and Russia. By reducing Russia’s influence in the region, the US can succeed in weakening the European Union as well, Stier suspects. He goes on to note that Moscow decided to abandon the expensive project and instead allocate its increasingly scarce financial resources to the construction of the pipelines to China in order to diversify its downstream markets. It cannot be taken for granted however that Moscow has completely given up on the project, since Europe’s dependence on Russian energy will not come to an end in the foreseeable future. In conclusion, Stier recommends that small nations like Hungary should seek their national interest in both directions in this “war of the Great Powers”.

In Népszava, Róbert Friss argues that the cancelation of the South Stream project is a huge blow for PM Orbán who stood “unconditionally” behind it. The left-wing columnist also notes that in 2008, it was former Socialist PM Gyurcsány who first promised help to Putin to build the South Stream pipeline. Friss cautions against feelings of schadenfreunde however. He suggests that after all, Putin may be right in saying that the cancelation of South Stream is detrimental to the EU’s economic interests and energy security, as it is unlikely that shale gas from the US can replace Russian energy any time soon. As Putin’s withdrawal indicates the deepening of geopolitical cleavages, global security is becoming increasingly shaky, Friss maintains.

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