MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. The United States has been trying to bring about a situation where Ukraine would be sustained at Russia’s expense, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
"They are wooing Ukraine and have established external control over it, but they want Ukraine to be sustained by our money as well," Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin". "They don’t want to give Ukraine money themselves."
He explained that to a certain extent he was referring to the money Moscow was paying for transiting gas to Europe through Ukraine. On the pretext of maintaining that transit Washington had imposed sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, although the argument looked strange, Putin said. He pointed out that Russia was interested in continuing the transit. "We will continue the transfer of gas, even if the volume is lower."
Putin remarked that after the conclusion of the new transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine, sanctions should have been lifted, but such expectations had failed to materialize. The way he sees it, the sanctions are expected to give US liquefied gas a competitive edge.
"They are securing a market for their products, exclusively in their own selfish interests and at the expense of European consumers," he explained. "But if the price of a fossil fuel rises by 25 to 30 per cent, the competitiveness of the German economy, as well as the European one, will be undermined."
The US was against Nord Stream 1 all along and earlier it opposed Russia’s economic relations with Europe, he recalled. Despite that, a number of major projects had been implemented. In particular, Putin recalled the gas-for-pipes deal, by which West Germany provided large-diameter pipes to the Soviet Union in exchange for gas in the 1960s. Russia has since acquired the capability to make large-diameter pipes to meet its own needs, Putin added.
Sanctions against Nord Stream
Nord Stream 2, a twin pipeline system having an estimated throughput of 55 billion cubic meters a year, is being laid from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Gazprom’s European partners in the project are Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie, and British-Dutch company Shell. The pipeline circumvents the transit states - Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and other East European and Baltic countries - through the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
US President Donald Trump late last year signed a law on the country’s defense budget incorporating a special clause on sanctions against Nord Stream 2, including companies that had agreed to participate in the project. Faced with a threat of US sanctions Switzerland’s Allseas Group, the contractor that had been laying the Nord Stream 2 pipelines, halted all work and revoked its ships involved in the project. Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller said Russia would finalize Nord Stream 2 on its own, because there were no insurmountable technological obstructions that might require foreign assistance.
Episode 11 of the video interview is available at https://putin.tass.ru/en.