(Bloomberg) -- Russia is considering building more subsea natural gas pipelines to Turkey to redirect the idled flows on the Nord Stream link to Europe, President Vladimir Putin said ahead of a meeting with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We could transfer to the Black Sea the lost Nord Stream volumes that used to be transited across the Baltic Sea,” Putin said Wednesday in his address to the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow. The Black Sea links to Turkey could become Russia’s main gas-export route for Europe, he said. 

The Kremlin is looking to strengthen its ties with Turkey as its relationship with the European Union has deteriorated sharply following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Russian gas exports to the EU are a fraction of pre-war levels, a situation worsened by ruptures on the key Nord Stream pipeline system running under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Construction of extra links toward Turkey could be possible if Ankara, a close political and economic ally, is interested, said Putin, who is meeting his Turkish counterpart in Kazakhstan Thursday. 

“It’s economically viable, and considering the recent events, the security level there is significantly higher,” Putin said.  

Nord Stream’s halt has left only two operating routes for Russian gas to Europe: via Ukraine and through one line of the TurkStream link under the Black Sea toward Turkey. Turkstream’s total shipment capacity through its two lines is 31.5 billion cubic meters a year, compared with 55 billion for Nord Stream. 

Gazprom PJSC is ready to build additional gas links toward Turkey under the Black Sea, Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said Wednesday at a Russian Energy Week session. He also suggested creating a trading hub on the EU-Turkish border, where the gas could be marketed.

“It’s the first time we hear about such an idea,” Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said at the same session. “We need to discuss legal, commercial and economic, technical issues.” 

However, given the previous cooperation between Turkey and Russia in such projects as TurkStream, building new gas links “is absolutely possible,” he said.  

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