Putin in Turkey for TurkStream launch

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday will participate in the commissioning ceremony of the TurkStream gas pipeline in Constantinople. Putin arrived in the city the day before from Damascus, where he met with Bashar al-Assad, visited the command post of the Russian Armed Forces group in Syria, toured the Great Mosque of Damascus and the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus.

According to the Kremlin press service, the president’s working programme in Turkey is scheduled for January 8. Vladimir Putin will attend the ceremony for launching the TurkStream gas pipeline and will meet with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is expected that the two sides will discuss the prospects for developing Russian-Turkish cooperation and current items on the international agenda, including the situation in Syria and Libya.

Ankara said earlier that the leaders of Bulgaria and Serbia will also attend the ceremony in Istanbul.

New gas pipeline
The TurkStream project is a gas pipeline consisting of two lines with a capacity of 15.75 bln cubic meters of gas per year each. The first line is intended for the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, the second – for gas supply to the countries of Southern and Southeast Europe. Gazprom considers Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary as potential markets.

Russian gas has already begun to flow to Bulgaria through the TurkStream gas pipeline from January 1, and from January 5, North Macedonia and Greece began to receive Russian gas through the new Strandja-2 compressor station in Bulgaria.

Negotiations between Bulgartransgaz and Russian company Gazprom Export on gas transit through the territory of Bulgaria ended in the last days of 2019. From a new gas supply point – the Strandja-2 compressor station – Bulgaria will annually receive 2.9 bln cubic meters of gas. Due to the fact that gas will now come to the country from Turkey, Sofia will be able to reduce transit costs by about 35 mln euro, and gas will become cheaper by 5%.

Expectations from talks
Earlier, Turkish experts forecast that Syria and Libya could be the main topics of negotiations between the two leaders in Istanbul.

In recent days, the Turkish president talked more often about problems in the Syrian de-escalation zone in Idlib. He repeatedly made statements that new waves of refugees rushed from the region towards the Turkish border. Erdogan claims that Ankara will no longer be able to deal with them alone.

Another important topic in the dialogue between the presidents of Russia and Turkey may be Libya, where the situation continues to escalate.