Putin tried to sign Prodi, Enric Giuliana

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In 2008, before the debt crisis erupted, when the world was falling apart, Vladimir Putin tried to enlist former Italian prime minister and former European Commission president Romano Prodi to lead a major Russian strategic operation in the region. in the energy sector with former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the Social Democrats.

Gazprom, the main Russian gas company directly controlled by the Kremlin, offered Prodi the presidency of the company that was to implement the South Stream project: a powerful gas pipeline that would connect Russia to Italy through various Eastern European countries, to enter service. 2018 $45 billion geopolitical operation for which Gazprom has formed an alliance with ENI, Italy’s national hydrocarbon company. The veteran politician with a grand European agenda, having held the top post in Brussels from 1999 to 2004, declined the offer citing personal reasons. The South Stream project failed six years after Russia annexed Crimea.

The offer came to Prodi in early 2008 after Silvio Berlusconi was ousted from power in Italy by a dark move in the Senate. A small group of centrist senators switched sides, breaking the slim centre-left majority in the upper house. Elections were called, the right won decisively, and Berlusconi agreed to head the government for a third term. A bitter electoral contest between a private TV mogul and a Bologna professor that began in 1996 has ended. A court in Naples later ruled that Senator Sergio Di Gregorio, who oversaw the switchover, had been bought off by Berlusconi.

Gazprom wanted Prodi to play a role similar to Schröder’s as head of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream, the Russian parent company that owns two major underwater gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea, the first since November 2011, the second still. Not free and paralyzed by the recent invasion of Ukraine.

Scheme: Nord Stream to Germany; South Stream to Italy with Schroeder and Prodi

Looking ahead, the Russian project was geopolitically ambitious: a large gas pipeline to the north and another large pipeline to the south. The energy colonies of Germany and Italy, Europe’s two major industrial economies, were accepted by the governments of both countries and legitimized by the public opinion by the presence of two well-known former prime ministers, both centre-left, energy companies at the top of both axes, the Baltic and the Black Sea, would contribute to the strategic neutralization of Ukraine, whose territory It was no longer necessary to send Russian gas to Europe.

If Prodi had accepted the order and the project had not failed, he would be living in a nightmare today. Italy’s dependence on Russian gas will be 55%, fifteen points higher than the current situation, a high of 40% is predicted. It will be impossible to find an alternative in the short term. According to sources familiar with the operation, Gazprom wanted to enter the Italian market as a gas seller in cooperation with local businessmen linked to the Berlusconi circle.

Russia maintains magnetic stabilization with its European hinge country, Italy.

This was not an easy project. The South Stream was supposed to cross the Black Sea and enter European territory through Bulgaria and through Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria to Italy – countries friendly or slightly hostile to Moscow. The Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas complicate matters. Pressure from the USA and the European Union on Bulgaria took effect and brought current affairs to a standstill. The project was blocked at the end of 2014, when Berlusconi had already lost the government again as a result of the financial crisis. At the same time, work began on an alternative gas pipeline, the Trans-Adriatic, which currently supplies gas from Azerbaijan to Italy via Turkey, Greece and Albania.

The story of South Stream highlights Russia’s growing interest in Italy after the end of the First Cold War. Interest repayment merchant Italy, which for centuries saw the eastern route from the Adriatic Sea. Italy is also Byzantine.

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Enrique Juliana

Enrique Juliana

Enrique Juliana

Enrique Juliana

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