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Russian ship resumes work on Nord Stream 2

January 25, 2021

The Russian pipe-laying ship "Fortuna" has defied US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and resumed its work on the project in waters off Denmark.

Russian vessel "Fortuna" in the Baltic Sea
Image: Jens Büttner/dpa-Zentralbild/picture alliance

A Russian vessel was conducting "preparatory works and tests" before continuing the construction on the Nord Stream 2 project, Danish authorities told Bloomberg media on Sunday.

Owned by the Russian company KVT-RUS, the pipe-laying ship "Fortuna" left Germany days ago and has been located some 28 kilometers (18 miles) south of the Danish island of Bornholm. 

Despite being subject to US sanctions, "Fortuna" resumed work "in line with relevant permits," the Nord Stream company said on Sunday.

Nord Stream 2 nearly complete

The controversial €10-billion ($11-billion) Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is majority owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, will run 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) beneath the Baltic Sea and is set to double Russian gas shipments to Germany, Europe's largest economy.

Work on the project resumed in December within German waters after being suspended for nearly a year because of the threat of US sanctions.

On January 15, Danish authorities cleared Nord Stream to resume construction.

Now about 94% complete, most of the outstanding pipe-laying will take place within Danish territorial waters.

A map showing the route of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The controversial Nord Stream gas pipeline stretching from Russia to Germany is almost 94% complete

EU lawmakers call on Brussels to block pipeline

The European Parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution urging Brussels to halt the completion of the pipeline.     

Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states fiercely oppose the project, fearing among other things, that it will increase Europe's reliance on Russian energy, which Moscow could leverage to exert political pressure.

Scientists are also concerned about its potentially negative climate impacts.

Many observers also criticized the project following the recent arrest of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after his return to Russia.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda advocated for further EU sanctions in an interview published on Sunday in the Financial Times. "If you want to enforce international law, the only option without guns, cannons and bombs is sanctions," Duda said. "That is why we are ready to contribute to a consensus on this issue."

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that she would not abandon the project, despite it being the subject of bipartisan US sanctions. She said she wants to discuss it with the new Biden administration and that the poisoning of Navalny had not changed her opinion.

lmb/dj (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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