Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the completion of the first line of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany despite US attempts to prevent the project.
"I am happy to announce that today, two and a half hours ago, the laying of the first line of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was successfully completed," Putin said at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, the country's flagship economic forum, on Friday.
Nord Stream 2, which would take gas from the Russian Arctic to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Europe's largest economy
The project has been beset by sanctions from the US and EU states.
Washington has opposed the project saying it would increase Russia’s economic and political leverage over Europe. Moscow and Germany, however, say Nord Stream 2 is a commercial project. Berlin says it needs gas as it shuts coal and nuclear plants over environmental and safety concerns.
Russia restarted construction of the politically-delicate pipeline to Germany in December after the construction work on the $11.6 billion pipeline, which will bypass Poland and Ukraine, was put on a halt for a year over Washington’s threat of sanctions.
"Work on the second line continues," Putin said, expressing his country’s readiness to pursue similar projects with Europe.
“We are ready to continue implementing similar high-tech projects with our European and other partners. We hope that the logic of mutual benefit and gains will inevitably prevail over all sorts of artificial barriers in the current political environment.”
Last month, Washington eventually waived additional sanctions against the Russian-controlled builder of the pipeline in a tacit admission that it failed to prevent the project.
Still, the US has said it remains opposed to Nord Stream 2.
“The new American administration says it wants to build good relations with its main partners in Europe,” Putin said, adding “Well, how can you build good relations with partners if you do not care about their interests? This is just some kind of nonsense.”
Putin also decried the US sanctions, saying they hurt the world economy. “They shrink it instead of helping to develop it.”
The announcement comes as Putin will hold a summit with his American counterpart Joe Biden on June 16 amid tensions between the two sides over several issues.