The Nordstream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany is "fully completed," Russian oil giant Gazprom announced on Friday.
The last piece of the $11 billion (€9.2 billion) pipeline was laid underneath the Baltic Sea on Monday. Then, the individual sections of the 1,230 kilometers (764 miles) had to be attached to one another, a process that was completed early Friday morning.
What is the significance of the announcement?
Gazprom's capacity to move oil through the Baltic to Europe has now doubled to a total of 110 billion cubic meters a year.
Ukraine and the United States have been highly critical of the project, citing Europe's increasing reliance on Russia for its energy needs. In the case of Ukraine and other so-called transit countries in eastern Europe, fees paid by Russia for gas exported through their territory could also be at risk.
Poland is also opposed to the project.
Pawel Soloch, a top official working for Polish President Andrej Duda, said Friday after Gazprom's announcement that the Polish leader will not meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visits Warsaw this Sunday. Soloch said the meeting will not take place due to a "coincidence of circumstances and mismatch" of schedules.
"The relationship with Germany is good, even if Nord Stream 2 is cast on it like a shadow, which weakens trust in bilateral relations," Soloch, the head of Duda's national security office, told Polish radio.
Germany currently relies on Russia for about 40 percent of its gas. However, analysts at think tanks such as the German Insitute for Economic Research (DIW) have called into question the government's insistence that the pipeline is necessary for the country's energy needs.
In 2018, the DIW published a report saying that the project was undertaken based on forecasts that "significantly overestimate" demand in Germany and Europe.
Why was the US opposed to Nordstream 2?
Begun in 2018 and scheduled to be finished in 2019, construction was delayed due to opposition from Washington. The US has viewed the project as a geopolitical tool for Moscow, and imposed sanctions on some individuals involved in the creation of the pipeline.
However, in July, the US and Germany struck a compromise in which they agreed to take action if Russia tries to control access to oil as a weapon or if commits further aggressive acts against Ukraine.
Kyiv is well aware of how Moscow could use the pipeline as a pressure vice, having had its oil supply cut off by Russia in the past.
Deliveries to Germany using the new pipeline, which follows the same route as Nord Stream, are provisionally scheduled to start in October, pending certification from the relevant German authorities.
es, wd/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)