Putin & Erdogan Officially Launch Turkstream Gas Pipeline, Jointly Condemn Soleimani Assassination, Call for Ceasefire in Libya; Merkel Makes Urgent Diplomatic Trip to Moscow Over Iran

“The presidents of Russia and Turkey commented on the situation. The two leaders’ joint declaration, signed following the talks in Istanbul, states that the U.S.’s operation against General Soleimani undermined security in the region and the use of force by any party doesn’t facilitate finding solutions to complex problems. After a 1.5-hour meeting, the presidents of Russia and Turkey officially put the TurkStream pipeline into operation.”

In the immediate aftermath of the latest escalations between the U.S. and Iran, Putin invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Moscow for a meeting, which will take place Saturday. German newspaper DW reported the following in anticipation of the meeting:

Conflict between Iran and the US will top the meeting’s agenda and Merkel and Putin will also discuss Libya, Syria and Ukraine, spokespeople for both leaders said. Germany and Russia have traditionally had deep economic ties and, among NATO and European leaders, Merkel has been a welcome guest in Moscow…

…Merkel and Putin may have been pushed apart by the Ukraine crisis but they are being brought closer “by the one-sidedness and unpredictability of US actions,” Baunov told DW, pointing to US sanctions leveled at the Russian-German gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 last year, and US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned US actions against Soleimani as “reckless,” while German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Rainer Breul said Berlin has not been privy to “information that would allow us to see that the US attack was based on international law.”

Russian analysts have said that following US actions, Merkel and Putin now share the goal of preventing a further escalation of fighting in the Middle East.

“Russia is interested in making sure that what is happening in the Middle East doesn’t have wider, bloodier consequences,” Middle East expert Andrei Ontikov said, adding that Germany and the rest of Europe can play a positive role in de-escalating the situation in the Middle East. “So, of course, Russia needs to coordinate its policies, including with Europe.”

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