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Putin in Turkey to launch TurkStream, discuss Libya and Syria

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to inaugurate a new gas pipeline, with tensions in Libya and Syria also on the agenda.

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.

Russia’s leader will seek to boost his credentials as a regional powerbroker at the symbolic opening of the TurkStream pipeline, which brings Russian gas to Turkey and southern Europe via the Black Sea.

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

The ceremony in Istanbul,  reflects a dramatic improvement in ties between Russia and Turkey – two countries seemingly on the verge of war less than five years ago after Turkey shot down a Russian jet.

They remain on opposing sides in the Syria conflict and could be on a collision course in Libya.

Last week, Turkey sent its first troops and Syrian mercenaries to help defend the militias allied with the government of Fayez al-Sarraj , which is under siege from the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

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