Key Russian company withdraws from Turkish nuclear project - columnist

A Russian company has withdrawn from plans to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant following tensions between Moscow and Ankara over issues including the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh, a columnist at Turkish newspaper Dünya said on Saturday.

Turkey and Russia have stepped up economic cooperation in recent years, including the joint venture to develop Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in southern Turkey.

The landmark deal to build the 4.800-Megawatt facility was signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin 2010, but may now be in doubt as the two leaders find themselves at odds over a series of foreign policy questions.

Inter Rao, one of Russia’s largest public energy companies, withdrew from the project following a board meeting on Oct. 26, Kerim Ülker said.

The move comes after Turkey’s military intervention to support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, traditionally seen as within Russia’s sphere of influence.

Despite only holding a one per cent stake in Akkuyu, Ülker said the significance of the decision came from the political connections of Inter Rao’s chairman Igor Sechin, who is Putin’s “de-facto assistant”.

“It is remarkable that Inter Rao, which is under the management of Igor Sechin, known as the second most powerful name in Russia, has withdrawn from the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant project. Especially in the immediate aftermath of Turkey's support for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Ülker wrote.