Russian energy behemoth Gazprom announced that it has reached a deal with Turkish government officials and representatives from Botas, a major Turkish energy firm, to construct what has been labeled the “Turkey Stream.” The new pipeline is expected to connect the two countries and will become operational in December 2016, according to a Gazprom spokesperson. The new pipeline is being constructed as an alternative to the proposed “South Stream” pipeline that was ultimately scrapped due to the European Union’s refusal to joint fund it.
An agreement on the proposed pipeline was expected to be brokered much sooner, although delays suggest that Turkey has made use of its leverage as a geopolitically partner to both East and West in order to drive down the price of gas and negotiate for itself a better deal. This falls in line with comments made by Gazprom officials in the past.
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- Human Rights Watch reports on the decade-long impunity extended to the Uzbek government despite the Andijan massacre of May 2005. The incident, which took place after thousands of Uzbeks took to the street to protest unemployment, poverty and government repression, saw hundreds killed. The perpetrators of the attack as well as their commanding officers have reportedly been left unpunished.
- Afghan security forces have launched a considerable offensive near the eastern city of Kunduz. The latest offensive comes as a response to increased Taliban activity in the country, and was triggered partially by now-corroborated rumors of ISIL involvement in Taliban resurgence activities in the region. The offensive in Kunduz is ongoing following a week-long standoff.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping was recently in Kazakhstan for visits with the country’s leadership. The visit marks a tour of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus undertaken by Xi, and will likely focus on the Silk Road Economic Belt and other Central Asian infrastructure projects with which China is affiliated. During the second leg of the trip, Xi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed agreements that will deepen economic ties between the two countries.
- Swedish politician and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom announced that the EU-Ukraine trade deal will likely be implemented by the start of 2016. The deal has generated considerable controversy due to its possibly negative implications on the already tenuous EU-Russia relationship. Russia has already threatened to limit EU access to Russian markets should any of the deal’s provisions be implemented.