Ukraine and Turkmenistan launch joint infrastructure projects

By bne IntelliNews February 15, 2013

bne -

Ukriane kicked off several infrastructure projects in Turkmenistan on February 14, as President Viktor Yanukovych paid a visit to his Turkmen peer to sign off on a tentative agreement to resume gas imports from the Central Asian state.

On a three day visit to Turkmenistan, Yanukovych and his host Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov attended a ceremony to launch the construction of new road and rail bridges across the Amu Darya river in the Turkmenabat region. Ukraine's Altcom Road Construction is building both, reports the Kyiv Post.

The events followed the signing of an agreement between the two presidents the previous day on the resumption of Turkmen gas exports to Ukraine. Until 2006, Turkmenistan exported around 36bn cubic metres of gas to Ukraine each year, receiving both cash and goods in return.

Should the deal go ahead, it will Ukraine diversify its energy imports and reduce dependence on Russia. However, there's the rub, with Russia one of two transit states - alongside Kazakhstan - that will need to help ship the gas. While Kazakh approval is expected, Kyiv may fund it more difficult to get Russia to play ball, given that Moscow is leveraging its dominance of the Ukrainian gas market to force Yanukovych into geo-political concessions.

Attempting to plough a middle course between Moscow and the EU while battling a precarious economic position, Yanukovych is looking to other "non-aligned" states for support. Energy rich Turkmenistan appears an ideal candidate.

The Ukrainian president understandably talked up his country's offerings then. Yanukovych told his host that the infrastructure being built by Ukrainian companies in Turkmenistan will "last for generations", according to the presidential press service. Although Ukraine is profiting from the projects, they will give Turkmenistan new facilities that will last for a long time, he told Berdymukahmedov.

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