Bilateral relations have taken a quantum leap between Turkey and Russia since their nadir in 2015 when the Turks shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M attack aircraft near the Syria–Turkey border. Now, with the launch of the 930-km pipeline carrying Russian natural gas to southern Europe through Turkey, the bond between the two regional great powers has perhaps never been stronger.
The respective presidents Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan were on hand in Istanbul to inaugurate the project, deemed by both leaders to benefit the peoples of Russia and Turkey and "the people of all Europe." Erdogan said the goal for Turkey is to turn the country into a global center for energy distribution, a "win-win" for all parties involved.
Russia is building TurkStream in two pipelines, each with an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm.
The first pipeline will supply Turkey and the second will extend from Bulgaria to Serbia and Hungary. Bulgaria hopes to be able to make shipments to Serbia by May and build the whole section by year-end.
Russia has already started European gas deliveries through the pipeline, gas operator Bulgartransgaz said on Sunday. The pipeline terminal is near the Turkish village of Kiyikoy, some 20 km (12 miles) from the Bulgarian border.
Russia is also doubling the capacity of Nord Stream across the Baltic Sea to Germany as part of plans to bypass Ukraine, which is currently the main route of transit to Europe.