MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Russia on Monday urged Germany
and the European Union not to drag its feet over certification
of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which has become a focal
point in political disputes between Moscow and the West.
The pipeline to Germany would double Russian gas export
capability under the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic metres per
year, circumventing Ukraine.
The project, lead by Russia's Gazprom, has been a
geopolitical irritant to the United States and countries
including Ukraine and Poland since before contruction was
completed in September, with regulatory clearance expected no
earlier than the end of the first half of this year.
"The certification procedure by Germany's regulators and the
European Commission should not be artificially protracted and
politicised," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"It has to be conducted in strict compliance with the
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to meet his
German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday during her
working visit to Russia, with Nord Stream 2 and Russia's
build-up of military forces near the Ukrainian border likely to
be among matters under discussion.
Baerbock said on Monday that the pipeline is on hold and
does not comply with European energy law.
Germany has supported Ukraine with aid and diplomatic
backing in its standoff with Moscow since Russia seized the
Crimean peninsula in 2014.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Anton Kolodyazhnyy
Editing by David Goodman)