Erdogan, Putin inaugurate gas pipeline linking Russia, Turkey

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(Istanbul) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin inaugurated a new gas pipeline linking their countries at a ceremony in Istanbul with tensions over Libya and Syria also on the agenda.

Erdogan described the Turkstream pipelines — which will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and Europe via the Black Sea — as a “project of historic importance” for relations between their countries.

Putin arrived late on Tuesday after paying a surprise visit to Syria — his first to Damascus since the war began — at a moment of acute uncertainty in the Middle East following the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the United States.

TurkStream and the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic allow Russia to increase gas supplies to Europe without having to rely on Ukraine.

But Moscow´s increasing domination of European energy markets has worried the United States, which last month sanctioned firms working on TurkStream and the almost-completed Nord Stream 2.