The pipeline, which is part of plans to modernize and expand the Central Asian region's gas network, will run from Turkmenistan along the Caspian coast of Kazakhstan and on to Russia for further transportation to Europe.
The more dependent Europe is on Russia for natural gas shipments, the less it can say the next time Russia decides to invade one of her neighbors. Indeed, the OSCE is already pulling out the peacekeeping force it had there:
Moscow wants to split up the international democracy and human rights group's mission in Georgia to reflect Russia's recognition of South Ossetia as an independent state after crushing Georgia's bid to retake the separatist territory.
Meanwhile, Putin is signaling a raise in prices to Russia's customers:
Mr. Putin says this means that despite well-known global financial problems and the economic downturn, and despite even lower energy prices, the era of cheap energy, including the era of cheap gas, is clearly coming to an end.