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18 Aug, 2018 17:00

Nord Stream 2 is purely economic project, doesn’t prevent gas supplies through Ukraine – Putin

Nord Stream 2 is purely economic project, doesn’t prevent gas supplies through Ukraine – Putin

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is a "purely economic project" and does not mean the transit of gas through Ukraine will stop, Vladimir Putin has stressed during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"I am aware of the federal chancellor's position, she keeps raising the issue. All that matters to us is that this transit is economically feasible, and makes economic sense," he said.

EU officials, including European Council President Donald Tusk, have expressed concern that the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project would lead to Ukraine missing out on €2.5 billion (€10.8 billion) in annual transit fees that Ukraine receives from the current pipeline.

The comments were made after Putin arrived at Meseberg Palace, 65km north of Berlin, for a meeting with Merkel. The two will speak about the pipeline project, as well as international topics such as Ukraine and Syria.

"We hope this project will improve the European energy system, diversify gas delivery routes, and meet the increasing demand of the European economy in natural gas," Putin said.

The goal of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is to double the existing pipeline's annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. The first part of the joint project between Gazprom and Western European energy giants has functioned without a hitch since 2011.

The partnership between Russia and Germany has been slammed by US President Donald Trump, who said in July that Berlin has become unworthy of US military protection, as it is “totally controlled” by Russia, turning into its captive” after agreeing to the “inappropriate” Nord Stream project. Last year US Congress gave the President authority to impose sanctions on people and companies related to the pipeline and they are being finalized, according to The Wall Street Journal citing its sources. And while Washington dresses up the sanctions as punishment for Moscow's alleged 'meddling' in US elections or involvement in Ukraine, it is openly pushes to replace the Nord Stream volumes with its own liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Meanwhile, the Russian president also spoke of trade with Germany during the press conference, stating that the country is "one of our leading partners in trade," growing by 22 percent last year. "From January to June this year, we added another 25 percent," he said.

The two leaders will also discuss the Iran nuclear deal, with Merkel saying: "We would like to preserve this deal but we are also concerned about the missile program with Iran."

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