MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have confirmed their commitment to continue to support the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project and hailed the progress reached at the gas transit talks, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday after their telephone conversation.
"The sides discussed issues of cooperation in the gas sphere. They reiterated commitment to further support to the Nord Stream-2 project. The leaders also noted progress reached at the talks on further transit of Russian gas via Ukraine after January 1, 2020," the press service said.
The conversation was initiated by the German side.
The US Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which obliges the administration to target the Russian pipelines Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream with sanctions. On December 11, the House of Representatives voted for it. On December 20, US President Donald Trump signed the bill and it came into force.
Following this bill, Allseas, a Swiss company laying the pipes for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, suspended its work on the project and recalled its ships.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier that Nord Stream 2 AG, the project operator, was able to finish the construction of the pipeline without foreign contractors and their pipe-laying vessels. However it would take several months to finish organizational works. According to Novak, the ministry expects Nord Stream-1 to be commissioned by the end of 2020.
Gas transit talks between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine are currently underway in Vienna.
On December 20, Moscow and Kiev announced that a new gas transit contract had been agreed for the term of five years and that mutual claims between Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine had been settled. The parties also agreed to waive new and withdraw existing mutual claims. Gazprom was bound to pay around $2.9 bln to Naftogaz by the year-end under the decision made by the Stockholm arbitration tribunal. Moreover, an amicable settlement was agreed on antitrust proceedings against Gazprom in Ukraine. On Friday, Gazprom reported that the amount had been paid to Naftogaz.