"There will be no waiting," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday in his first official statement on the Russian proposal for Turkey becoming a Russian gas hub for Europe.
Both leaders attended and met at a regional summit in Kazakhstan, where Putin floated a plan for exporting more gas - which has been blocked through main European hubs due to the Ukraine invasion and also 'mystery' sabotage attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines - through the TurkStream pipeline, which runs under the Black Sea.
Both said they are now quickly moving forward, laying the groundwork for technical plans. "Together with Mr. Putin, we have instructed our Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the relevant institution on the Russian side to work together," Erdogan said following the meeting with Putin.
"They will conduct this study. Wherever the most appropriate place is, we will hopefully establish this distribution center there," the Turkish leader added. Erdogan had suggested Thrace as an ideal location in his comments to the press.
Separate follow-up comments by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated that Turkey sees itself in a position to alleviate Europe's energy crisis, also at a moment it is putting itself forward as a reliable 'neutral' mediator toward ending the war in Ukraine.
"The weakening of Europe in all aspects is not in Turkey’s interest. On the contrary, it is against (Turkey’s interests,)" Cavusoglu said. "This is a matter of supply and demand. How much of Europe ... is ready to buy gas from such a project? This needs to be worked out together."
As for Europe, leaders are likely only to this as another ploy by Moscow to sow division among NATO as well as EU countries in their united stance against Russia, and as they struggle to agree on punitive energy measures against Moscow, yet in a way that doesn't blow back worse on European populations and the economy.
So far, of course, this delicate tightrope attempt - including also efforts to cap Russian oil prices - have only backfired and exposed inter-EU tensions and fractures, given the strong resistance of countries like Hungary and Bulgaria.
Turkey, in even entertaining the new Putin proposal and now signaling it's moving forward with studying it, has throughout the Ukraine conflict proven itself to be an outlier when it comes to its Western allies' united strong stance against Russia.