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Russia, Turkey leaders mark strategic TurkStream gas pipeline achievement Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Russia, Turkey leaders mark strategic TurkStream gas pipeline achievement

Erdogan and Putin have grown closer over the past two years [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2018

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A crucial stage in the strategically critical TurkStream gas pipeline has been completed.
Russia and Turkey's leaders signalled the growing relations between the two countries with the completion of a strategically significant pipeline between the two countries.

Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have marked the completion of a key phase of TurkStream at a ceremony in Istanbul.

Erdogan said that the offshore section of TurkStream's two parallel lines - two kilometres deep in the Black Sea - had been finished with the final leg of the "historic project" reached.

Russian gas will cut through Turkey via pipelines to European markets. This will include two 930-kilometer (578-mile) lines under the Black Sea, along with the Russian and Turkish onshore pipes, that will carry 31.5 billion cubic metres (1.1 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas annually.

"We are witnessing a very important event that is a clear demonstration of a partnership and cooperation between our countries in dealing with the most complex and ambitious projects," Putin said.

Turkey and Russia's relationship will not dictated by "other countries' impositions", following criticism from Ankara's NATO partners about its close ties with Moscow.

"The implementation of projects like this one is a good example of an ability to stand up for one's own national interests," Putin added.

Some European nations have been reportedly forced to give up lucrative deals with Russia under pressure from the US.

Russia was a top supplier of natural gas for resource-reliant Turkey last year, buying 28 billion cubic metres last year. That gas is currently transported through another line under the Black Sea and the onshore West Line through Ukraine, which is involved in a proxy war with Russia.

"Turkey will be able to fulfill its own as well as European countries' natural gas demands without being exposed to transit risks," Erdogan said.

TurkStream will begin operations in 2019, he added.

Turkey and Russia have warmed in the last two years after Erdogan apologised for the downing of a Russian fighter jet along the border with Syria in 2015.

That event marked a serious deterioration between the two sides.

Turkey's has pledged to buy a Russian surface-to-air missile defence system - the advanced S-400 - that has sparked concern from Ankara's NATO partners.

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