German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said the country will not bow to political pressure from the US over the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which he has insisted will be completed.
The Russian gas pipeline project has met with opposition from the US and elsewhere, with sanctions hitting several top Russian governmental officials in response to the poisoning of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
In an interview with Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland RND, Maas said: "We decide on our energy policy and energy supply here in Europe."
He was referring to mounting US pressure on authorities in the German port of Mukran —Nord Stream 2’s core logistics and storage base — as well as the country’s contractors and suppliers to halt their service to the Russian project.
“We are not criticising the fact that the United States more than doubled its oil imports from Russia last year and is now the world's second-largest importer of Russian heavy oil. The US are exercising their right to an independent energy policy. We do that too”, he said.
“I assume that Nord Stream 2 will be finished. The question is when,” he added.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has not provided details on when it expects to resume pipelaying in Danish waters after its sudden halt in December 2019 following the withdrawal of Swiss contractor Allseas.
Earlier this month, the Russian-owned pipelaying vessel Akademik Chersky moved to waters near the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad after spending five months in Mukran, reportedly being upgraded with new systems to answer Nord Stream 2 pipelaying requirements.
Three other Russian support vessels have stayed near Chersky in the recent days, with industry observers in Moscow suggesting construction of the pipeline's remaining 160-kilometre subsea segment in Danish waters may resume close to end of the first quarter next year.
When operational, Nord Stream 2 will be able to deliver up to 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Germany and permit Gazprom to fully halt Russian gas transit supplies to Europe via Ukraine.