Tsipras, Putin to sign preliminary deal on gas pipeline

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to sign a preliminary agreement for Greece’s participation in Moscow’s planned extension of the so-called “Turk Stream” gas pipeline through Greek territory during Tsipras’s visit on Thursday and Friday to Saint Petersburg.

The pact is not expected to be legally binding, or to include a commitment by Moscow for the release of a down payment ahead of the pipeline’s construction, but rather a statement of intent following weeks of talks during which both sides have expressed their commitment to cooperation in the particular energy project.

Tsipras is to meet Putin on the sidelines of an economic forum in the Russian city. The timing of the visit has raised concerns as Greece is locked in difficult talks with its international creditors and some Greek officials have suggested Athens could find funding elsewhere; but government sources noted that Tsipras’s visit to Russia has been planned since April. Also, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday that Moscow has not budgeted to provide financial support to Athens.