Putin’s anticipated favors for Greece worrying the west

Russian president Vladimir Putin is expected to make a number of favorable offers to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, including in the energy sector, when the two heads of state meet in Moscow tomorrow.

Putin’s gestures, to emerge at a time when the two countries appear to be establishing closer ties despite the disapproval of EU and US officials, are expected to include a softer Russian stance on a misjudged, by Greek officials, take-or-pay clause included in a natural gas supply agreement that has led to a penalty estimated at over 100 million euros for Greece.

DEPA, Greece’s Public Gas Corporation, overestimated its gas order placed with Russia’s Gazprom for 2014 as a result of lower domestic gas consumption amid the Greek recession, which subsequently activated a take-or-pay clause included in the natural gas agreement between the two sides.

Sources said Putin is prepared to order Gazprom to excuse Greece of this resulting obligation’s entire amount.

The same sources also noted that procedures will also begin for a reduction of Russian gas supply prices to Greece. However, the prospect is being linked to Greece’s support for the development of Turkish Stream, Russia’s latest natural gas pipeline plan to bypass Ukraine and reach the Greek-Turkish border area for supply to the EU. Turkish Stream is Russia’s alternate proposal for South Stream, a stalled plan whose route woute have crossed the Black Sea to Bulgaria.

EU and American officials, currently at odds with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the country’s maneuverings for monopolistic energy supply to the EU, have not embraced the Russian plan for Turkish Stream. The Greek Prime Minister’s trip to Moscow promises to produce energy-sector developments of geopolitical significance.

Besides the energy matters, Putin is also expected to lift a Russian trade embargo on agricultural products, an initiative that would release Greek exports worth about 200 million euros.