Russia could create 'gas hub' in Turkey, Putin tells Erdogan
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow would consider developing a "gas hub" in Turkey, with Russia's supplies to Europe disrupted by Ukraine-related sanctions and damage to key pipelines.
"Turkey has turned out to be the most reliable route for deliveries today, even to Europe," Putin told Erdogan at a face-to-face meeting in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
"We could consider the possibility of creating a gas hub in Turkey for supplies to other countries."
Erdogan has aimed to retain open dialogue with Russia and western countries since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite an array of differences including conflicts in Syria and elsewhere.
"It would be a platform, not only for deliveries, but also for determining [gas] prices," Putin said, adding that: "Today these prices are exorbitant and we could normally regulate this without any political overtones."
The proposal comes as Russia looks to maintain its energy leverage over Europe while redirecting supplies away from the Nord Stream Baltic gas pipelines, damaged in explosions last month, that are still under investigation.
Gas prices have skyrocketed since the beginning of Russia's war and Europe has struggled to find alternative energy supplies after Russia strangled deliveries in response to western sanctions.
Putin and Erdogan did not discuss ways to resolve the conflict in Ukraine during the meeting on Thursday, Russia's state-run RIA news agency reported, citing the Kremlin.
"The topic of a Russian-Ukrainian settlement was not discussed," RIA cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
Putin first suggested on Wednesday that Russia could create a major gas hub in Turkey by redirecting supplies intended for the damaged Nord Stream undersea pipelines. Putin has blamed the US and its allies for blowing up the pipeline.
Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating the blasts as acts of sabotage but have not yet said who they believe was responsible.
In the televised exchange between the two leaders, Erdogan did not comment on the gas hub idea.
Erdogan has sought to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
The Turkish president achieved a rare diplomatic breakthrough when, together with the United Nations, he brokered an agreement in July allowing for the resumption of commercial Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports that Russia had blockaded.
Putin said at Thursday's meeting that not enough of the grain was going to the poorest countries.
Russia also says its own grain and fertiliser exports, while not directly targeted by western sanctions, are being hampered by problems with access to foreign ports and difficulties in obtaining insurance.
Erdogan told Putin: "We are determined to strengthen and continue the grain exports under the Istanbul agreement and the transfer of Russian grain and fertiliser to less developed countries via Turkey."