Documents highlighted by Russian state media show bilateral trade between Russia and Turkey, two potential energy partners, declined more than 30 percent.
Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan has scheduled a state visit to Russia this week. Ahead of the meeting, Russian news agency Tass highlighted documents that show trade between the two countries is on the decline.
“The Russian-Turkish trade fell by 32 percent to $15.8 billion last year,” the documents show.
Russian energy company Gazprom is looking at Turkey as an alternative to Ukraine, through which most of the Russian gas pipelines run. Geopolitical issues associated with Ukraine make legacy routes risky and Turkey’s geographic position makes it attractive as a bridge to transport energy resources from Central Asian suppliers to the European market
A Russian-backed project dubbed Turkish Stream would mirror the route for the now-abandoned South Stream project and run under the Black Sea to Turkey and then to the European market. South Stream was scrapped because of concerns about Russian business practices expressed by some European countries.
Gazprom in December approved a three-and-a-half-year loan to aid the construction of the planned Turkish Stream pipeline. Funds target construction, purchase contracts and general administrative expenses.
After the coup last year, Erdogan received a letter of condolence from Russian President Putin and both sides in signed a series of trade and economic agreements aimed at broadening the bilateral level of cooperation.
Turkish ties to Europe turned south after Erdogan won the plurality in a national referendum that strengthened his grip on power, a referendum the president said was a response to last year’s coup attempt.
By Daniel J. Graeber