Russia Urges Germany and EU Not to Delay Nord Stream 2
Russia on Monday urged Germany and the European Union not to drag its feet over certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has become a focal point in political disputes between Moscow and the West.
The pipeline to Germany would double Russian gas export capability under the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic meters per year, circumventing Ukraine.
The project, lead by Russia's Gazprom, has been a geopolitical irritant to the United States and countries including Ukraine and Poland since before construction was completed in September, with regulatory clearance expected no earlier than the end of the first half of this year.
"The certification procedure by Germany's regulators and the European Commission should not be artificially protracted and politicized," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"It has to be conducted in strict compliance with the current norms."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to meet his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday during her working visit to Russia, with Nord Stream 2 and Russia's build-up of military forces near the Ukrainian border likely to be among matters under discussion.
Baerbock said on Monday that the pipeline is on hold and does not comply with European energy law.
Germany has supported Ukraine with aid and diplomatic backing in its standoff with Moscow since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Anton Kolodyazhnyy Editing by David Goodman)