World Bulletin / News Desk
President Vladimir Putin said Friday Russia intends to continue natural gas shipments via Ukraine despite a planned second pipeline to Germany.
"We will continue gas shipments (via Ukraine) as long as they are economically justified," Putin said during a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
For her part, Merkel said that "Germany believes Ukraine's role as a transit country should continue after the construction of Nord Stream 2... it has a strategic importance".
She added that Germany was ready to help ensure such an outcome.
Germany has supported plans by Russia's Gazprom to build the second pipeline under the Baltic Sea, preparatory works for which have begun and the pipeline should be completed in 2019.
However Merkel last month shifted gears to say that Nord Stream could not go forward without guarantees for Ukraine.
Merkel said Friday that while Germany looks at Nord Stream 2 as a business project "there are other elements, so we need to think about guarantees for Ukraine".
Ukraine has so far rejected proposals from Gazprom that would reduce the volumes of gas shipped through the country.
Russia has previously shut off deliveries to Ukraine in pricing disputes, which disrupted supplies to several nations in Europe during winter months.
Washington has previously raised concerns about Nord Stream 2, as it will reinforce Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas when US liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies are becoming available.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the US administration has increased pressure on Europe to abandon the pipeline in exchange for avoiding a trade war.
Putin said he did not see anything new in the position of US President Donald Trump.
"Donald isn't just a president but a strong businessman. I think he is promoting his business interest to sell US liquefied natural gas on the European market," said the Russian president.
He also said that the United States "wants us to inject a little of our money into Ukraine" via transit fees, which he said amount to $2-3 billion per year.
Moscow and Kiev have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and is widely seen as having fuelled a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 10,000 lives.
Putin said Russia is ready for gas transit talks with Ukraine and is confident an economically advantageous deal can be found.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mayıs 2018, 17:17