Russia lashes EU's Caspian gas plans
Russia lashed the European Union on Tuesday for launching talks with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on a pipeline project that could deliver the Caspian region's vast gas reserves directly to Europe.
"The Russian foreign ministry expresses disappointment with this decision by the European Commission," it said in a statement.
"It seems that it was adopted without taking into account the internationally accepted legal and geopolitical situation in the Caspian basin," it said.
Russia is the world's largest energy producer and this month pumped the first gas into a undersea link that will directly feed German and other major Western European markets.
EU states purchase about a quarter of their gas from Russia and have been seeking various ways to curb that dependence -- a policy also supported by the United States amid fears of the Kremlin using energy as a political weapon.
The 27-nation bloc's ministers on Monday agreed to kick off talks on a Trans-Caspian Pipeline deal that would enable the construction of a submarine pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea.
The two resource-rich countries have recently been courted by both Russia and the EU for stable supplies that could be instrumental in the viability of any major gas pipeline.
The EU-backed link is meant to feed into a broader project called the Southern Corridor encompassing the Caspian basin and Middle East.
Russia is currently developing a South Stream pipeline in the same region that it hopes to launch by the early 2016 and its foreign ministry launched a blistering legal attack on the EU idea.
The Caspian's five littoral states that also include Iran and Kazakhstan have still not ironed out long-running border disputes and have conflicting claims over each other's energy deposits.
But the nations are all signatories to a 2007 agreement that Russia said binds them to finding consensus on major issues such as the laying of international pipelines.
"It is obvious that the laying of a trans-Caspian pipeline in a landlocked body of water that has heightened seismic and elevated tectonic activity ... is one of the issues" covered by the 2007 treaty, the Russian ministry said.
It added that EU nations have no experience developing such complex projects and expressed its "surprise" that the first link would run under a body of water that is so far removed from Europe.
© 2011 AFP