National Security Politics Russia Ukraine War

Putin sells Erdogan dream of Turkey ‘gas hub’ while international community shuns Moscow

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed on Thursday to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to create a “gas hub” in Turkey to export gas to Europe, at a time when Russian deliveries to the EU are affected by sanctions and leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline.

Meeting on the sidelines of a regional leaders summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, there was no talk of the war in Ukraine despite speculation that Ankara might renew efforts to broker dialogue between Moscow and Kyiv. 

Instead, Putin focused on a potential energy initiative.

“If Turkey and our possible buyers in other countries are interested, we could consider building another gas pipeline system and creating a gas hub in Turkey for sales to third countries, especially, of course, the European ones, if they are interested in this, of course,” Russia’s leader said.

President Erdogan defended Turkey’s continuing trade relations with Russia, highlighting the deal Ankara negotiated in July to allow Ukraine to export grain blockaded in Black Sea ports. 

“While Turkey and Russia’s steps will disturb certain circles, they will make less developed countries happy,” said the Turkish leader.

But Russia’s UN ambassador in Geneva told Reuters on Thursday that it has submitted concerns to the UN about the agreement, hinting that Moscow may not renew it.

Putin’s initiative on a gas hub in Turkey comes at a time when Russian gas deliveries to Europe are being hit hard by Western sanctions against Russia, with the EU considering a cap on gas prices in the face of rising energy bills caused by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

His hurried efforts to shore up support among historical allies and neighbours also comes after Russia’s global isolation was reinforced by a UN vote condemning Moscow’s annexation of occupied regions in Ukraine. The Council of Europe on Thursday also adopted a resolution declaring Russia a terrorist state.