The EU’s move can be qualified as “creeping economic sanctions against Russia”, Russian representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday.
“European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger linked the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline with the situation in Ukraine,” he said.The Russian diplomat named this as “sincere politicization of energy issues”.
“Bulgaria conducted a tender for constructing the South Stream stretch. Bulgaria’s consortium Gazproekt Jug AD and Russia’s Stroytransgaz won the tender. Stroytransgaz is on the US sanctions list, but it is not on the EU sanctions list,” Chizhov said.
This situation “was a test for the EU’s ability to pursue an independent policy”, he said.
Chizhov said that after the talks with US senators on June 8, Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski had ordered the work on the South Stream project to be suspended.
He did not rule out that this issue would be discussed at the upcoming consultations between the Russian Energy Ministry and the European Commission.
The South Stream project has faced a number of problems since relations between Russia and Europe soured over Ukraine.
Gazprom said it can complete the South Stream pipeline without international funding.
Gazprom’s $45 billion South Stream project, slated to open in 2018 and deliver 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe, is a strategy for Russia to bypass politically unstable Ukraine as a transit country, and helps ensure the reliability of gas supplies to Europe.
Serbia imports about 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year, most of which comes from Russia via Hungary and Ukraine.