Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak has reaffirmed the country's commitment to complete the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas export pipeline despite a new wave of opposition to the project in Europe following the apparent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Speaking to Russian state television channel Rossiya 1, Novak said that the project “is in the high degree of readiness and will be built”.
Long-term gas supply
Nord Stream 2 is required to “provide competitive gas supplies [to Europe] for many decades ahead”, while the importance of gas in European energy balance will rise, he added.
Novak spoke shortly after a majority of members of the European Parliament voted to adopt a resolution, calling for European members “to co-ordinate their positions vis-a-vis Russia" following the alleged recent poisoning of Navalny during a trip to Siberia.
The parliamentary members also called on member nations "to speak with one unified voice in bilateral and multilateral forums with Russian authorities”.
Among other measures to form a unified European response to alleged Russian governmental attempt to silence the vociferous Kremlin critic, the European parliament has renewed a call to halt Nord Stream 2.
Navalny, who was airlifted to a specialised clinic in Berlin in August, was reported earlier this week to have been taken out of an induced coma and off a ventilator.
He has already vowed to return to Russia, according to his representative.
Nord Stream 2, managed by Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, involves the laying of 160 kilometres of pipeline in the Denmark’s maritime zone before the project is ready to proceed into the commissioning phase.
Vessel-tracking services reveal that activities associated with the project continue in the Baltic port of Mukran, which is part of the Sassnitz borough in Germany, with tugs, barges and support vessels regularly arriving to moor next to the Russian pipelaying vessel, Akademik Chersky.
The Akademik Chersky is widely believed to be capable of laying the pipe for Nord Stream 2 after undergoing several months of updates to its pipe-handling and welding equipment.
Meanwhile, authorities Sassnitz authorities have reacted to a recent warning letter from three US senators, telling them to consider breaking ties with Nord Stream 2, which maintains its main logistics base in the region.
Speaking to television channel France24, Sassnitz mayor Frank Kracht said that the US senators want to destroy “our community business”.
The borough of Sassnitz is a major shareholder in the port of Mukran where thousands of unused pipes for Nord Stream 2 are being stored.
The August letter warned Mukran’s operator, Fahrhafen Sassnitz, that the US may impose “immediate sanctions” against the company, its management team, board members and shareholders if the port continues to provide services to Nord Stream 2.
“We are taking this very seriously because it is obvious the US is determined to scare us and advance their interests through force,” Kracht has been quoted as saying.