The Kremlin has told Germany and the European Union to not drag its feet with the certification process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has become a focal point in political disputes between Moscow and the West.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The certification procedure by Germany’s regulators and the European Commission should not be artificially protracted and politicised. It has to be conducted in strict compliance with the current norms.”
The pipeline – constructed by Kremlin-backed gas giant Gazprom – would double Russia’s export capacity to Germany, while also circumventing Ukraine.
It still awaits approval from German regulators, with a decision not expected until the summer.
The project has been a geopolitical irritant to the US – which is concerned about Europe becoming overly-dependent on Russian natural gas.
The continent already relies on Russia for 35 per cent of its natural gas, and it has suffered supply shortages over recent months with Gazprom cutting export growth to below five per cent this winter.
Nord Stream 2 was initially expected to be approved before Christmas, but the process was suspended amid governance concerns.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to meet German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday, during her working visit to Russia.
Nord Stream 2 is expected to be a key matter under discussion, alongside the build-up of over 100,000 Russian troops in close proximity of Ukraine’s borders.
Baerbock repeated on Monday that the process for the pipeline remains on hold, as it does not currently 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.
Meanwhile, Russia state energy giant Gazprom revealed on Monday it has not booked any capacity to pump gas to Europe through the Yamal pipeline next month.
The developments compound a sharp drop-off in Russian exports to the region so far this year.
Gazprom said pipeline exports of Russian gas have tumbled 41 per cent from a year ago so far in January, underlining the impact of a reversal in the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which usually pumps Russian gas into Europe, from Germany to Poland.
Data from German network operator Gascade showed that this was occurring for a 28th consecutive day on Monday.
The gas trader has not booked any capacity through the pipeline for February, this could change as it is able to initiate daily auctions.
The link has been operating in reverse mode since Dec. 21, helping drive up gas prices.
However the prices dropped on Monday thanks to robust liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes and higher wind power output.