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NORD STREAM

Denmark could be bypassed by Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Russian energy giant Gazprom said Wednesday its controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline set to supply Europe could bypass Danish waters if Copenhagen continues to withhold permission.

Denmark could be bypassed by Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline
Pipes for Nord Stream on board a pipe laying ship in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Stine Jacobsen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The almost-completed project's final major hurdle is obtaining an agreement from Denmark that the Baltic Sea pipeline can cross its exclusive economic zone, which is outside its territorial waters.

“If they don't approve it… we will go around Denmark's economic zone,” Gazprom chairman Viktor Zubkov said at a Moscow energy forum, quoted by TASS news agency.

If Denmark withholds permission, the project “will be more costly and will take longer,” he said, criticising Copenhagen's stance since the pipeline will provide “gas for Europe.”

The building of the pipeline has sparked concerns about Western Europe's increasing dependence on Russian gas.

It has also raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies.

Its proponents — led by Germany, the EU's biggest economy — say the pipeline will provide reliable supplies at an acceptable price.

Gazprom had said in a statement on Tuesday that the pipeline is 83 percent complete, with more than 2,000 kilometres laid.

“We have practically reached… Denmark's economic zone,” Zubkov said, adding that if Copenhagen gives the green light, the project could be completed in “four to five weeks.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak at the same forum said he was still counting on Denmark granting approval.

“We don't see any basis not to give such a permit,” he said.

Half of the 9.5-billion-euro ($10.6-billion) project is financed by Gazprom, with the rest covered by its European partners: Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Anglo-Dutch Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and those tied to it with sanctions, saying it makes Germany “a hostage to Russia.”

READ ALSO: Danish Nord Stream delay 'could cost €660m'

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RUSSIA

Denmark’s Nord Stream green light ‘weakens Europe’: Ukraine president

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed on Thursday Denmark's decision to grant a Russian gas project a building permit, saying it "strengthens Russia and weakens Europe."

Denmark's Nord Stream green light 'weakens Europe': Ukraine president
Nord Stream 2 pipeline being laid in the Baltic Sea. Photo: Stine Jacobsen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

On Wednesday, Copenhagen gave Russia's Nord Stream 2 project a permit to build a section of the natural gas pipeline on the Danish continental shelf in the Baltic Sea.

The 9.5-billion-euro pipeline led by Gazprom has raised fears that Moscow will be able to increase pressure on Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the ex-Soviet country for transiting supplies.

“We understand that this is not just a matter of energy security, it is a geopolitical issue,” Zelensky said during a joint news conference with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

“Therefore I will tell you frankly that this strengthens Russia and weakens Europe,” Zelensky added.

The 41-year-old president, who came to power in May, said, however, that Ukraine was “ready for such a decision.”

“We understood this could happen,” he said.

The Baltic energy link will double the capacity to ship gas between Russia and Germany, sparking concerns about Western Europe's increasing dependence on Russian gas.

Nord Stream 2's proponents — led by Germany, the EU's biggest economy — say the pipeline will provide reliable supplies at an acceptable price.

But US President Donald Trump has threatened to hit Nord Stream 2 and those tied to it with sanctions, saying it makes Germany “a hostage to Russia.”

Most of Russia's gas destined for Europe passes through Ukraine.

Ukraine wants to remain a major transit route for Russian gas while Moscow seeks to send more gas to Europe via pipelines bypassing Ukraine.

Ties between Ukraine and Russia were shredded after a bloody uprising ousted a Kremlin-backed regime in 2014.

Moscow went on to annex Crimea and support insurgents in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed some 13,000 people.

READ ALSO: Denmark clears way for Russian gas pipeline

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