Putin vs EU: Why Erdogan row hands Moscow initiative in Brussels feud

EU member states Greece and Cyprus have agreed a deal for a gas pipeline with Israel. This will see the EastMed pipeline connect Israel’s gas fields to Southern Europe. The project is to be partially funded by the EU as Brussels backs a project which will supplement 10 percent of its gas requirements, and would therefore decrease its dependence on rivals Russia.

Russia is the largest exporter of gas in the world, and a cornerstone to its dominance over the resource is its Nord Stream pipeline which runs to northeast Germany.

With the EU looking to diversify its gas sources, Putin could attempt to undermine the Brussels as Moscow looks to maintain its dominance over the lucrative market.

Moscow ally Tayyip Erdogan is looking to establish an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast.

But this has been condemned by other countries with vested interests in the sea, with political rivals Cyprus and Greece condemning Ankara’s move as a cynical grab for resources.

Russia has emerged to become the world’s largest exporter of gas, and will hope Putin’s friendship with Erdogan in Turkey will reap further dominance over the lucrative resource.

Russia’s influence in Turkey has grown in recent months, with the sale of S-400 missile systems putting NATO on watch amid fears that the weapons could be a threat to Western fighter jets.

Due to Turkey’s membership of the defence bloc, Russian weapons placed within its borders means F-35 fighter jets used by the US, UK and others can be observed and studied by Moscow.

Erdogan’s incursion into Syria in October has also played a huge part in securing Russian dominance in the Middle East due to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of troops in October.

Syria has been a historically crucial area for Russia during its attempts to challenge NATO in the Soviet and Cold War era.

The Soviet Union began using a base in the major port city of Tartus in Syria in 1971, giving Moscow a boost in its efforts to repel US ships in the Mediteranean.

This came after the formation of the ‘The 5th Squadron’ in 1967, still in the Mediterranean today as a symbol of Russia’s military effort to expand influence in the Middle East and Europe.

The Mediterranean Sea has become a military playground for Russia in recent years. In 2013, President Putin and his country’s Navy established a ‘Mediterranean Squadron’ – a huge convoy of ships and submarines.

The fleet has been bolstered heavily in recent years in the East Mediteranean, forming a useful and imposing military presence on the doorsteps of both the Middle East and Southern Europe.

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The Soviet Union began using a base in the major port city of Tartus in Syria in 1971, giving Moscow a boost in its efforts to repel US ships in the Mediteranean.

This came after the formation of the ‘The 5th Squadron’ in 1967, still in the Mediterranean today as a symbol of Russia’s military effort to expand influence in the Middle East and Europe.

The Mediterranean Sea has become a military playground for Russia in recent years. In 2013, President Putin and his country’s Navy established a ‘Mediterranean Squadron’ – a huge convoy of ships and submarines.

The fleet has been bolstered heavily in recent years in the East Mediteranean, forming a useful and imposing military presence on the doorsteps of both the Middle East and Southern Europe.

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