The construction and launch of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline is one of the most important areas of cooperation between Russia and Turkey. Turkish Stream is an international gas pipeline project from the Anapa region of the Krasnodar Territory of Russia along the bottom of the Black Sea to the European part of Turkey. At the moment, the project is at the last stage of implementation, the launch of the first string of the gas pipeline is planned for the end of 2019. This was announced at a joint conference with a Turkish counterpart by Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting that after an increase in the capacity of the Turkish Stream through the second branch, deliveries will be made in transit to Europe through Turkey.
The problem of building both the Turkish Stream and another Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is associated with the issue of gas transit through Ukraine. The agreement with Ukraine ends on January 1, 2020, at this point fully Nord Stream-2 and both lines of the Turkish Stream will not be put into operation, which means that a new agreement with Ukraine is required, which is not so easy to conclude under conditions favorable to Russia . Russia benefits from a short-term contract for gas transit to Europe, while Ukraine insists on a long-term one. No consensus has yet been found on this issue, meanwhile, the current contract is ending in a few months.
Erdogan is trying to adhere to his traditional policy of successfully maneuvering between the United States and Russia, but doing so is becoming more and more difficult. Amid the escalation of the conflict in the Idlib zone, Erdogan failed to reach consensus with Russia - the positions of countries on this issue are different. The offensive by Bashar al-Assad’s troops is likely to continue (albeit locally), as well as their support by Russia. At the same time, it is possible to exchange a decrease in Turkey’s ambitions in Idlib for support on another Syrian-sensitive topic - the location of Kurdish armed forces, their withdrawal from the Turkish border in northeastern Syria and the creation of a “security zone” there. Turkey recently reached an agreement on this issue with the United States.
Some warming in relations between Turkey and the United States is expressed in the appearance of the American ambassador to Turkey, who became US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East David Satterfield. For the past 22 months, the duties of ambassador have been performed by the charge d'affaires. At the same time, relations between countries are still very controversial. Earlier, the US stopped Turkish participation in the project of creating an F-35 aircraft due to the supply of S-400 to Turkey. Erdogan, who during his visit to Russia actively showed interest in Russian aircraft, also tries not to concede. The message is clear: Turkey is not without alternatives in the choice of suppliers, and excessive US pressure can lead to rapprochement with Russia and close cooperation not only in the context of S-400 supplies, but also the possible purchase of Russian aircraft.
The situation of the President of Turkey is complicated by the tense situation inside the country. Erdogan’s frankly authoritarian and militantly antagonistic attitude towards the opposition, combined with a sharply worsened economic situation and an increase in high cost, split the society. In the local elections, the party in power lost not only in Istanbul, but also in Ankara and Izmir. Erdogan’s support will gradually fall in the face of declining economic growth, continued “tightening of screws” in the country's political life and the inability to renew legitimacy through external military achievements. In such a situation, it is vital for Erdogan to demonstrate his external legitimacy and importance in the international arena, not allowing attempts to blackmail and pressure from any of the interested players.