Being Turkey’s top gas supplier signals that Azerbaijan is gradually becoming a “tool” in Turkey’s geopolitical manoeuvres for imposing competition on Russia and weakening Moscow’s positions on the gas market.
Azerbaijan has become Turkey’s major gas supplier and this could have major geopolitical ramifications for the region. But it also fits into Turkey’s efforts of the past several years to diminish its dependence on Russian gas. Hence Ankara’s particularly harsh position regarding the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan fighting in the Tovuz region where regional gas, oil and railway infrastructure runs.
From January-May of this year, Turkey imported 4 527,39 cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas (from Shah Deniz field). This is some 20,4 percent more in comparison to the same period of 2019. On the other hand, in May 2020 the import from Russia diminished by almost 62% compared to the same month in 2019. In May 2020, Azerbaijan officially became Turkey’s top gas supplier.
Geopolitics of gas supplies
The decline of Russian gas supplies means Turkey would have space for geopolitical manoeuvres in an increasingly unstable period of time. Moreover, Ankara might gain even greater leverage as various contracts guaranteeing gas flows from Russia expire in coming years and extensive talks will likely be held.
Turkey is interested in an unhindered flow of Azerbaijani gas and, as other regional or global powers, is willing to defend its gas supply chain politically and, if necessary, even use a limited military force.
Turkey aims to transform itself into the region’s energy hub rather than serving only as a transit country. Azerbaijani gas will continue to play a vital role in this emerging Turkish strategy.