MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian gas transit through Ukraine may be continued even after the launch of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
“Actually, this transit will be possible, but again, everything depends on the Ukrainian side,” Peskov told reporters when asked about the statement made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which states the need to guarantee further transit of Russian gas through Ukraine.
“There is no talk of stopping transit after the commissioning of the Nord Stream, this transit may be continued,” he said, adding that Putin had earlier voiced this position.
Despite constant claims by Ukrainian officials of the “danger” that the pipeline poses, Berlin has repeatedly reiterated its support for Nord Stream 2, stressing that it is a purely commercial project that benefits both Europe and Russia.
The $10.9 billion pipeline aims to build the delivery capacity of up to 55 billion cubic meters of additional Russian natural gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea and is expected to become operational by the end of 2019. The project has encountered opposition from a number of European countries, including Ukraine, which profits from gas transit from Russia to Europe, while US President Donald Trump has urged the EU to abandon it in favour of American LNG.
Situation in France
The Kremlin spokesman also addressed the recent mass demonstrations in France, noting that it is an internal affair of the country.
“This is an exclusively internal affair of France. The only thing that is important for us is that these protests… do not result in fatalities or injuries, especially for the Russian citizens, of course,” Peskov told reporters when asked about Russian position considering the “yellow vests protests.
He also doubted media reports that claimed that Washington was behind the French protests
The “yellow vest” protests, named after the reflective vests that all French drivers are required to keep in their cars, have been ongoing across France since November 17. Saturday’s demonstrations protesting rising fuel prices were accompanied by violent clashes between police and protesters torching cars and looting shops in Paris. As a result, more than 400 people were detained and over 130 others were injured.
Ongoing Probe into Kerch Strait Crisis
Peskov redirected the reporters’ questions about the whereabouts of the Ukrainian ships detained after the Kerch Strait incident to the investigators.
“I cannot answer your question… This is rather the prerogative of the investigators who are currently carrying out the probe, filing charges. You have to address them to find out because as far as we understand, these ships… they are relevant to the ongoing probe. Where they are, I cannot tell you, you have to turn to the investigators for that,” the official said.
On November 25, Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, which serves as the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels and their crew members were detained by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop.