As readers know, the USA and the EU have been increasing sanctions on Russia due to Russia’s actions in annexing the Crimea and gradually taking over larger sections of Russian-sympathizing eastern Ukraine. Russia has been getting angrier. Russia has now served notice that it can also bite back at Europe for cooperating with the USA on sanctions vs. Russia.

Russia supplies a lot of energy to European nations, and the European nations dependent on Russian gas are caught in a squeeze. They want to show solidarity with the Ukraine and the USA re: the sanctions, but they do not want to cooperate to an extent that Russia is angered to the point it cuts off gas shipments to certain European nations. Russia has now raised the stakes in this geopolitical “grand game.”

As is explained in the two links below, Russia is taking an action to alter the way natural gas is distributed to its European customers. Russia has long distributed gas shipments to European nations via the Ukraine, but it needs an alternate route of shipment now that Russia and the Ukraine are close to a state of war. As long as Russian gas is distributed to European nations via the Ukraine, the safety and reliability of those shipments is endangered as long as there is combat in the Ukraine. Russia had intended to bypass the Ukraine by building a new pipeline under the Black Sea and then distributing its gas to European customers via a land pipeline through the Balkans. However, the Balkan route would involve transiting the gas shipments through the territory of NATO and/or EU member states in the Balkans. Apparently, Russia has decided even that route is no longer reliable, and, in a move that also punishes European nations for cooperating with the USA on sanctions vs. Russia, it has decided to now build its new gas pipelines under the Black Sea and through Turkey. Russia has instructed its European nations that they will have to build pipelines of their own to connect to the Turkish pipeline terminus points if they want Russian gas. This action has caused immense consternation in Europe as European companies already had contracts to build the Balkan pipeline route that will now apparently not be built. One of the links below includes a map showing the pipelines discussed above.

Russia has taken an action which is strategically smart for its interests. By taking this action, it is accomplishing many goals. It is punishing European nations for cooperating with US-led sanctions vs. Russia and serving notice that further cooperation with US-led sanctions will hurt Europe even more. Russia is also driving a wedge between Turkey and NATO/the EU by making Turkey its partner in Russia’s gas distribution network. This will serve to draw Turkey closer to Russia and drive it further away from the EU nations. It also makes the Balkan European nations angry at the rest of Europe for causing a cancellation of the Balkan gas pipeline which would have gained them a steady flow of transit fee income. It will also cause angry European corporations whose plans for lucrative projects in building the Balkan pipeline route to put heavy pressure on Europe’s governments to stop cooperating with US sanctions vs. Russia. By essentially forcing European nations starved for Russian gas to build new pipelines at their own expense to access Russian gas flowing through Turkish pipelines, Russia is forcing an unwanted expense on Europe’s governments, further punishing them for cooperating with the US-led sanctions. Additionally, when the Ukraine is no longer a transit source for European natural gas shipments to Europe, the Ukraine’s troubles with Russia will have less impact on European nations and the European nations will have less reason to help the Ukraine.

This is a “win-win-win-win” situation for Russia and a “lose-lose-lose-lose” situation for Europe’s nations. Turkey is also an obvious winner in this development. Surprisingly, the other winner in the Russian decision to ship its gas to Europe via Turkey might be…the USA. The USA produces a lot of natural gas and some European nations may decide that it is a better and more reliable option to import liquid natural gas from the USA via LNG ships instead of building oil pipelines to connect to Russian gas via Turkey.

Biblically, this development further cements the growing divide between Russia and most western nations, and it represents an effort by Russia to turn the nation of Turkey into the Gog-Magog alliance prophesied in Ezekiel 38.  By making Turkey an economic partner and ally, Russia hopes to turn it into an open ally in the future. Turkey better be careful. Unless it wants to be as dominated by Russia as were the Warsaw Pact nations of Eastern Europe during the Cold War, it better keep some distance between it and Russia. Russia would love to eventually control Turkey, as it would give Russia control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles, giving it unfettered access from Russian Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey needs to realize it also is in Russia’s “bull’s eye.”

In the game of international geopolitics, the western nations seem to be playing a simplistic game of “marbles” while Russia is playing a game of championship chess. Russia is showing it is willing to endure short-term pain in order to gain long-term advantages. No matter what angle one looks at this situation from, Europe and the Ukraine are the big losers.