The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed satisfaction over the near completion of the controversial Nord Stream-2 pipeline in telephone conversations.
“Leaders are pleased that construction of Nord Stream-2 is nearing completion,” the Kremlin said in a statement after the talks.
During the phone call, Putin praised Germany’s “commitment” to the project, the Kremlin said, stressing that it is “purely commercial” and aimed at strengthening Germany’s and the European Union’s energy security.
Earlier Wednesday, the United States announced it had reached an agreement with Germany over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would threaten Russia with sanctions and seek to expand Ukraine’s gas transit.
The nearly-completed 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) pipeline will double Russia’s gas supply to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.
But the project has been hotly contested by the United States and several European countries, who claim it will increase Russia’s energy dependency and Moscow’s geopolitical influence.
The pipeline bypasses Ukraine’s gas infrastructure, depriving the country of about a billion euros in transit fees annually and, Kiev fears, removes a key check on potential Russian aggression in the region.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Putin and Merkel were discussing a possible extension of a gas transit agreement between Moscow and Kiev.
“The Russian president and the German chancellor have raised the possibility of extending an agreement between Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz on the transit of gas through Ukrainian territory beyond 2024,” the Kremlin said without providing further details.
Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, said Germany had agreed to work with the United States to urge Russia to extend a 10-year transit agreement through Ukraine, which expires at the end of 2024.
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