Robert HARNEIS -TDO- ( FRANCE)- Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 connecting Germany and Russia beneath the Baltic will be completed by the beginning of 2021 at the latest, despite US sanctions. In company with German Chancellor Angela Merkel he said in Moscow, “I hope that before the end of the year or at the latest during the first three months of the next year work will be completed and that the pipeline will be inaugurated”. This is a year later than originally planned.

At the same time Chancellor Merkel confirmed her support of the project and once again condemned Washington’s sanctions which have stopped work on the pipeline because the subcontractor Allseas responsible for laying the pipes has felt obliged to withdraw from the contract because of threats of financial sanctions and the refusal of visas for staff. She commented “we consider that extraterritorial American sanctions are not appropriate and that is why we continue to support this project.”

The almost completed pipeline will allow for the doubling of the supply of natural gas from Russia to Western Europe. According to Washington and certain members of the European Union – Poland and the Baltic states – the pipeline will increase European dependence on Russian gas and Moscow could use this dependence to exercise political pressure.

There is also concern that the pipeline operates against the interests of the West’s ally Ukraine that earns important revenues from Russian gas currently crossing its territory.

The delay in the completion of the pipeline has already forced Russia to come to an agreement with Ukraine on the continued supply of gas for the next five years.

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