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Russian president Vladimir Putin has announced he will no longer build the South Stream gas pipeline, due to EU opposition.

Speaking at a press briefing with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on 1 December, Putin said that “since we have not received Bulgaria’s permission”, Russia “cannot continue the implementation of the project”, reports Standart.

South Stream would link Russian gas fields to Austria and Italy via the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary from 2016. It would bypass Ukraine and increase Europe’s dependence on Russia. The European Commission “threatened to launch legal action on grounds that South Stream violates EU anti-monopoly laws, with Bulgaria halting construction in August”, notes EUobserver.

According to Standart, “Bulgaria is about to lose billions” from Russia’s withdrawal, as Putin —

recalled that the country would receive €400m a year in transit fees. […] The news shocked Bulgaria, which was unable to take a stance between the EU and Russia.