Russia and Germany have expressed joint “satisfaction” with the near completion of a gas pipeline project favoring both sides that has been heavily frowned upon by the United States.
The Kremlin announced the news on Wednesday, saying the remarks were exchanged during a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding the Nord Stream-2 pipeline.
"The leaders are satisfied with the construction of Nord Stream-2 nearing completion," it said in a statement.
During the phone call, Putin praised Germany's "commitment" to the project, stressing that it is "purely commercial" and aimed at strengthening the energy security of Germany and the European Union.
The $12-billion (10-billion-euro) project would deliver gas from the Arctic to Germany via the Baltic Sea. Upon completion, the project that is led by Russian state energy company Gazprom and its Western partners, is set to double Russian gas supplies to Germany, Europe's largest economy.
But it has been fiercely opposed by the United States and its European allies, which claim that it would increase “energy dependence” on Russia and contribute to Moscow's geopolitical influence.
Media outlets belonging to the Western anti-Russia camp have been focusing on the pipeline’s bypassing of Ukraine's gas infrastructure, saying that the project “deprives” Kiev of around a billion euros annually in transit fees—as if through Moscow’s direct intention.
However, the Kremlin said that Putin and Merkel had also discussed a possible extension of a gas transit agreement between Moscow and Kiev.
"The Russian president and the German Chancellor touched upon a possibility of extending an agreement between Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz on the transit of gas through Ukrainian territory beyond 2024," the statement said.
Victoria Nuland, the US under-secretary of state for political affairs, meanwhile, claimed that Germany had agreed to work alongside the United States to press Russia to extend the transit agreement by 10 years.