Putin reaches Turkey to inaugurate TurkStream undersea natural gas pipeline
The Russian President was received by his Turkish counterpart on Monday to officially inaugurate the TurkStream undersea natural gas pipeline which is expected to bring Russian gas through the Black Sea to Turkey and on to Europe from next year.
Vladimir Putin joined Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a ceremony at the Istanbul Congress Centre to mark the completion of the offshore section of the pipeline, reports Efe news.
"We plan to transfer at least half of the natural gas transported through here to Europe," Erdogan asserted in a speech at the ceremony, adding it would carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.
TurkStream is to give Russia a way to export gas to southern and eastern Europe that avoids going through Ukraine as Moscow has accused the pro-western government in Kiev of stealing natural gas destined for the European Union.
However, Putin seemed to downplay the Ukrainian factor in his remarks Monday, saying: "This is not a project contrary to the interests of third countries, it is to strengthen bilateral relations. It is to improve the conditions of economic collaboration between our two countries, it is beneficial for Turkey."
Instead, Turkstream's offshore section will connect to the European part of Turkey, about 40 km south of the Bulgarian border.
(With inputs from agencies.)