Russia took a major step forward in its campaign for control of Europe's natural gas supply last week when it signed a deal with Bulgaria to restart construction on a $15 billion pipeline under the Black Sea.
Under the deal signed last week by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov, the South Stream Pipeline will send natural gas under the Black Sea directly to Europe via Bulgaria.
The route bypasses Turkey, seen as an essential transit route for Russia's natural gas exports to western Europe.
Construction on the pipeline began in the 1980s but was halted in 1990. Planning for the project restarted in 2003.
Russia and Bulgaria will each have a 50 percent stake in the Bulgarian portion of the pipeline.
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