Interview with Fyodor Lukyanov

Fyodor Lukyanov, the Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine, spoke to Russia Today about Russia protecting its interests at the BSEC summit in Istanbul.

Russia Today: President Vladimir Putin is going to arrive at this summit fresh from the energy summit in Zagreb. Do you expect him to continue to push his energy agenda?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, absolutely. This summit is actually a continuation of the summit in Zagreb because the main topic discussed there was a new pipeline which will be built by Russian and Italian companies and is very important for Russian gas giant Gazprom because it will be new opportunity to diversify Russian gas supplies to Europe. And of course in Istanbul Mr. Putin will continue these talks because Turkey step by step is turning to a main gap in this region, main gas and oil gap, so it is very important to develop relations with Turkey and all the countries around there.

RT: Turkey holds the presidency of the BSEC group at the moment until October. So, you feel Russia will be using that time to really make a deal with Turkey. I mean is this a talk first or are we going to see an agreement signed?

F.L.: I think it will be first of all talk, because it is very important to keep talking in this region which is not only very fast developing but also very interesting and quite unstable from a security point of view. Besides energy, Russia is very interested in keeping this region diversified from the security point of view because NATO is very interested in at least two countries in this region, Georgia and Ukraine, which is absolutely not a good idea for Russia.

RT: When you talk about diversifying, what strategies would be needed to do that, what challenges to overcome to be able to diversify?

F.L.: To diversify energy routes that is quite clear that Russia needs more options to deal with transit countries because Gazprom faced problems with transit countries like Ukraine and Belarus several times. In terms of security – that is a question of confidence, actually.

RT: Please tell us more about the significance of this particular group.

F.L.: This is actually the only group in this region where Russia is a member and it is very important as a framework for discussion between new NATO and EU members like Bulgaria and Romania, for example, and Russia in terms of regional security.

RT: So, tell us again, what do you see as being Russia's main goals? Is it purely and simply energy that Putin would be pushing or other issues perhaps on the sidelines that he will be pursuing?

F.L.: That is of course energy and that is military security in the region because Russian Black Sea fleet is still there and we will have very tough negotiations with Ukraine in years to come how to keep or to withdraw Russian Black Sea fleet from the Crimea.