Erdoğan y Putin

Putin sees Turkey as the most reliable partner to send gas to Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed turning Turkey into a major hub for natural gas distribution to the EU.

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that Turkey is today the most reliable partner to send gas to Europe: he transmitted this Thursday to his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdoğan, to whom he proposed to create a major gas distribution hub in the Eurasian country during a meeting that both held in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, within the framework of a summit of countries in the region.

After the meeting that both held in Kazakhstan, Putin pointed out that Russia’s energy supplies to Turkey were being maintained “at full capacity”, and pointed to the possibility of turning Turkey into a large natural gas distribution hub for the EU, as an alternative to the routes that cross Europe directly.

“It would also be a platform not only for supplies, but also to determine the price, because the question of price is a very important issue,” the Russian president told Erdoğan when presenting him with his proposal. “Currently, these prices are very high; we could easily regulate them at a normal market price, without political issues,” he added.

Putin had already proposed yesterday this idea of ​​​​creating a large gas distribution hub in Turkey, as a way to redirect natural gas supplies that previously circulated through the Nord Stream gas pipelines of the Baltic, damaged after what appears to be sabotage. In this regard, the Russian president said that although it is technically possible to repair these gas pipelines, Russia and the EU must first reach an agreement on their future.

“We could transfer the flow lost in the Nord Stream in the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea region, and thus make the main routes for the supply of our fuels, of our natural gas to Europe, pass through Turkey, creating in Turkey the Europe’s largest natural gas hub,” Putin said yesterday, adding that Moscow continues to supply natural gas through the Turk Stream gas pipeline despite what he denounced as sabotage attempts.

Turkey offers to export Russian grain

Putin also stressed that the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the Akkuyu (Mersin) nuclear power plant which uses Russian technology, is going according to plan and could start operations in 2023, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. On the agreement to export grain reached under the mediation of Ankara and the UN, the Russian president complained that it is not reaching the poorest nations enough, and assured that the countries that are receiving grain should thank Erdoğan.

The Turkish president for his part said that Turkey is determined to strengthen such an agreement, and ready to transport Russian grain and fertilizers to less developed countries. Erdoğan also defended the growing commercial ties between Ankara and Moscow during what was his 4th meeting with Putin in the last 3 months: “Although the advances between Turkey and Russia may upset some circles, they will make the poorest countries happy”, he stated referring to the agreement on the export of Russian grain.

During the meeting with the Russian president, Erdoğan however did not comment on Putin’s proposed idea of ​​turning Turkey into a hub from which to distribute natural gas to Europe. Since the Russian attack on Ukraine, Ankara has maintained a neutral and mediating position between Ukraine and Russia, both which Turkey already had close ties since before the conflict; however, the Turkish government insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected, and while it has not imposed sanctions on Russia, it does not recognize the annexations of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.