London — Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas gave a new boost to the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on Oct. 17, saying in an interview that he "assumes" the project will be completed.
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"The question is, when," Maas said in the wide-ranging interview with German media outfit RND.
A little over 150 km of Nord Stream 2 remains to be laid in Danish and German waters, but with the political debate becoming ever more frenzied, it remains unclear how and when the pipeline will be completed.
Russia and the US continue to trade blows over the project, particularly since the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on Aug. 20.
Nord Stream 2 would double the capacity of the gas corridor via the Baltic Sea to Germany to 110 Bcm/year and would reduce the need for Russia to use Ukraine as a transit country for gas supply to Europe.
Washington has threatened to impose sanctions on any companies helping to lay the remaining Nord Stream 2 pipe, a move that has been slammed by Germany and other EU countries.
"We decide our energy policy and our energy supplies here in Europe," Maas said.
"We don't criticize the US for more than doubling its oil imports from Russia in the past year. The US exercises its right to an independent energy policy. So do we," he said.
Maas had previously hinted that Germany's position on Nord Stream 2 could be modified after the Navalny poisoning. "I hope that the Russians will not force us to change our stance on Nord Stream 2," he said on Sept. 6.
In the latest interview, Maas said that Europe had given a "quick" response to Russia over the Navalny poisoning, with the EU imposing sanctions against a number of Russian individuals and one scientific entity.
However, despite calls for coordinated European action involving Nord Stream 2, the project has not been subject to any EU measures.
While the political debate continued to intensify, there has been no indication work to resume pipelaying is close.
The pipelaying vessel expected to carry out the work, the Akademik Cherskiy, is currently anchored in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Kaliningrad.
It moved from the German port of Mukran -- where it had been for almost five months -- on Oct. 1, according to S&P Global Platts trade flow software, cFlow.
Other vessels -- considered as potential support vessels -- have come and gone from the port, including the Ivan Sidorenko, which is now in port at Kaliningrad.
Mukran is home to the remaining pipe needed to complete the project.