Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is visiting Turkey to secure backing for the South Stream gas pipeline as Russia seeks to maintain its dominance in energy supplies to Europe.
Putin plans to hold talks on Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and to sign a deal on constructing part of the South Stream project through Turkish waters in the Black Sea.
The pipeline would eventually run under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria before delivering gas to consumers in the Europe Union. An alternative EU-backed Nabucco pipeline is supposed to go through Turkey and carry Caspian and possibly Central Asian gas to Europe.
Russia says Putin and Erdogan also plan to sign a deal on nuclear energy cooperation.