Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Nord Stream 2, a system of offshore natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, will be finished by early 2021 at the latest, despite sanctions imposed by the United States on companies involved in the project.
“I hope that by the end of this year, or in the first quarter of next year, work will be finished and the gas pipeline will start operating,” the Russian leader said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following talks at the Kremlin on Saturday.
Last month, Washington imposed sanctions on firms that work on the almost-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, fearing that the 9.5-billion-euro ($10.6-billion) project would extend the Russian influence in Europe.
The sanctions would revoke US visas and block property of those companies and individuals providing services on the controversial pipeline project.
So far, the Swiss-based Allseas Group S.A. has announced that it would abandon the project over fears of being slapped with US economic measures, causing delay in completing the project on the expected date.
Nord Stream 2 is owned by Russia’s Gazprom, with investment from several European companies.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin said the US sanctions would only cause delays of “several months.”
Russia “could complete construction independently without using foreign partners,” he further said, adding, “It is a question of deadlines. That's the only issue here.”
Merkel, for her part, said that “despite the sanctions it will be possible to complete Nord Stream 2... There is a certain delay but it will be completed.”
She also stressed that her country “considers extraterritorial sanctions to be unsuitable and that's why we continue to support this project.”
Russia’s Gazprom is funding half of the project while its European partners, Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Anglo-Dutch Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV, are financing the rest.