Speaking to a world business forum in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced the completion of work on the first line of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline crossing the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany.
“Today (…) the laying work of the first Nord Stream 2 line has been successfully completed. Work on the second line is underway,” Putin said, noting that Russia was now ready to start. to fill the gas line.
The Russian president underlined his country’s willingness to participate in more such collaborations with EU countries in the future.
Putin also said that the idea that Russia does not care about the environment is a “myth,” promising to cut emissions at a faster rate than Europe, “Over the next 30 years, the volume cumulative net greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be lower than in Europe. ” The Russian leader said he had ordered his government to present plans to do so by the fall.
Why is Nord Stream 2 so controversial?
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has divided opinions since the announcement of construction plans. Critics fear that Russia will use the infrastructure project to expand its influence in Europe. In addition, Ukraine and Poland oppose the project because it effectively excludes them from transit trade and Washington opposes it because it wants to sell US gas to the EU.
The pipeline is owned by Nord Stream AG, whose majority shareholder is the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom. The pipeline, which runs from Russia to northern Germany, will facilitate the transport of Russian natural gas to Western Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed the pipeline, saying it will help her country meet its energy needs. She has always defended the project in the face of criticism, despite controversial relations with Russia.
Last week, the Biden administration announced it would no longer impose sanctions on companies involved in the project, calling them “counterproductive” in an attempt to build better relations with Europe.
Putin on gas, the dollar, the United States and Ukraine
The $ 12 billion (â¬ 9.9 billion) Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline is the world’s longest submarine pipeline and is expected to double Russian gas exports to the Germany, the largest economy in the EU. The second line of the project is expected to be completed in two months, when Putin said Gazprom would start shipping gas as soon as Berlin gave him permission.
Putin, who will meet with US President Joe Biden on June 16 at an upcoming summit in Geneva, Switzerland, has called fractured US gas “barbaric” and more expensive than what Russia is offering.
He also launched the idea that Russian companies ditch the dollar – which he said was being used for “economic and political warfare” – noting that such a move “would deal a serious blow to the currency, but we don’t want to not do it. this.”
“The euro is quite acceptable to us in terms of paying for gas. It can be done, of course, and probably should be done,” Putin said, suggesting a way to avoid US sanctions.
Putin, who has kept the West on its guard in the face of incursions into eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula – not to mention several incidents involving the suspected poisoning and arrest and blatant abuse of political opponents – said he was ready to work with Ukraine.
After criticizing Kiev for the high transit fees it charges for Russian gas to the EU, Putin said his country would welcome normalized relations with Ukraine, but said Kiev must first show goodwill to Moscow before that can happen.
js / rt (dpa, Reuters)