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4 Jun, 2021 11:59

First stretch of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline completed on Friday morning Putin reveals, despite vehement US objections to scheme

First stretch of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline completed on Friday morning Putin reveals, despite vehement US objections to scheme

Work on the first core section of a controversial underwater energy pipeline linking Siberia’s gas fields to Western Europe has already been completed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday in a surprise announcement.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Putin said “I am pleased to say that today, just two-and-a-half-hours ago, we have completed laying the pipes for the first section of Nord Stream 2, and works are advancing on the second segment.”

“The gas pipeline, including the segment under the sea, has already been completed,” the president added. “There are two sections, from the German side and the Russian side – they have to be welded – and then it will be finished.”

The base station, he revealed, is “ready” to pump gas into Nord Stream 2 and begin supplying consumers in compliance with tough environmental standards. “We are willing to further implement high-tech projects like this with our European partners and partners elsewhere,” Putin declared.

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“We hope that the paradigm of mutual use and mutual benefit will always prevail over all kinds of artificial barriers from the current political climate.”

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Kiev stands to lose around $3 billion a year if Russia ceases to transit gas through the Soviet-built overland pipe network that runs across the country. The potential hit to revenue, he said, could make it difficult to fund the nation’s armed forces.

However, Russian officials have said there are no short-term plans to end supplies, and that current transit agreements would be up for renegotiation when they expire in 2024.

Nord Stream 2 had been the subject of fierce sanctions from Washington, with former president Donald Trump’s State Department issuing waves of restrictions and financial measures against firms involved in the laying of the pipeline. However, the project was consistently supported by officials in Germany, where it is set to terminate, despite American objections.

US politicians had described the conduit as a “grave threat” to Europe’s “energy security, and American national security.” However, critics of Trump’s policy on the pipeline claimed more self-interested motives were at play, and according to Politico, a common refrain in Berlin is that “the Americans don’t care about Russia, they just want to sell us their fracking gas.”

Last month, new US President Joe Biden said that he had come to office too late to stop construction on the pipeline and it would be “counterproductive” to sanction allies given that it was close to completion. However, his State Department previously said it would impose measures on “a handful of Russian ships” involved in laying the underwater segments.

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