Russia said it has completed the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline after the Biden administration agreed in May to waive congressionally mandated sanctions against the Kremlin-backed project.
Aleksei Miller, the chief executive officer of Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom, announced on September 10 that the pipeline -- consisting of two parallel lines stretching 1,230 kilometers each -- had been completed after more than a one-year delay caused by U.S. sanctions. Nord Stream 2 will reroute Russian natural gas exports to Germany under the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine and depriving Kyiv of as much as $2 billion a year in transit fees.
Ukraine vehemently opposes the project, which it calls a security threat. The U.S. Congress passed sanctions in 2019 and 2020 to stop the completion of Nord Stream 2, which was initially slated for launch in 2020. However, the Biden administration waived some of the sanctions in May in an attempt to mend relations with Germany, a key U.S. ally. Nord Stream 2 still needs to be certified and approved for use before it can begin exporting natural gas to Germany. Certification is expected to take up to four months but will only start once all the paperwork is completed, which entails checks by the German Economics Ministry and Gazprom. Following Miller's announcement, Ukraine’s presidential spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov said that Kyiv will keep on opposing Nord Stream 2 "before and after its completion and even after the gas is turned on."