Bulgaria launches full investigation into Turkish Stream

“This type of project is exactly what is being talked about when corruption is used as a foreign policy tool by Putin,” said Petkov, who returned from his US visit the day before.  [EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND]

Bulgaria will launch a full investigation into the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project that stretches through Bulgaria as it showcases how Russia uses corruption as a foreign policy tool, announced Prime Minister Kiril Petkov on Thursday.

The section of the pipeline that runs through Bulgaria was quickly built by the government of ex-Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and cost Bulgarian taxpayers €1.5 billion although it served Russia’s strategic goal of bypassing Ukraine’s gas routes.

The pipeline carries Russian gas through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary.

“This type of project is exactly what is being talked about when corruption is used as a foreign policy tool by Putin,” said Petkov, who returned from his US visit the day before.

The prime minister also commented on how Bulgaria’s Western partners see corruption as a key tool Putin uses in the Balkans.

Gazprom stopped supplying gas to Bulgaria at the end of April, but authorities in Sofia continue to transit gas to Serbia and Hungary.

Borissov stopped calling the pipeline ‘Balkan Stream’ after the US threatened to impose sanctions on the project and began saying that the pipeline was part of Bulgaria’s internal gas network.

The pipeline’s construction was in line with EU standards, and a tender was announced for its capacity. In reality, however, the pipeline only serves Gazprom, which has reserved it almost entirely. After Turkish Stream was commissioned in early 2021, Gazprom cut off supplies that ran via Ukraine, as well as via Romania via the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline.

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