TurkStream gas pipeline will bring Moscow, Ankara closer than ever

Following a visit to Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin will join his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday to open the TurkStream gas pipeline, a major energy project that analysts say will deepen ties between the two nations and expand Moscow’s political leverage in the region.

During a ceremony in Istanbul, the two leaders will inaugurate a project consisting of two pipelines, the first of which will begin supplying 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkish markets, while the second is scheduled to open later in 2020, carrying the same capacity to southeastern European countries.

Though the pair are expected to hold closed-door meetings regarding developments in Idlib and Libya, where Russia and Turkey back opposing sides, Turkish officials are calling the opening of TurkStream a significant advancement for the nation’s energy security.

“We have made a huge leap forward toward becoming a major energy corridor,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told the state-run Anadolu Agency last week.

The 930-kilometer (580-mile) pipeline linking the Russian Black Sea port of Anapa with Kiyikoy, just west of Istanbul, is opening less than two months after the inauguration of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, which transports energy from gas fields in Azerbaijan through Turkey and then to European markets.

While the developments strengthen Turkey’s position as a regional energy transit hub, the TurkStream pipeline will also increase Turkish dependency on Russian energy imports, according to Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Turkish-Russian relations.

“Russia will play the role of a hegemonic actor in Turkey’s gas market,” Has told Al-Monitor. “And from the Russian perspective, Russia can diminish its dependency on Ukraine as a transit country.”

Read the full story on Al Monitor.