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RUSSIA

Medvedev starts Baltic gas pipeline construction

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday launched construction of the controversial Nord Stream gas pipeline that will link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and supply the European Union with gas.

Medvedev starts Baltic gas pipeline construction
Photo: DPA

Medvedev watched the pipeline being ceremonially welded in the Portovaya bay around 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Vyborg in northwestern Russia. In an opening speech, he called the launch a “remarkable event,” saying the pipeline would assure “energy security” in Europe and “reasonable and acceptable prices.”

“The demand for ‘blue fuel’ in Europe will continue to grow,” Medvedev said, referring to gas.

He then chalked “Good luck” on the pipeline, decorated with Russian and German flags.

Speaking in a video recorded in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomed the project’s “enormous economic potential.”

The 1,224-kilometre (758-mile) pipeline is set to be built at a cost of €7.4 billion ($9.9 billion) invested by Russian gas giant Gazprom and its German partners E.On Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall.

The pipeline is set to transport 55 billion cubic metres of gas annually to the German city of Greifswald, passing under the territorial waters of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

The aim of the Nord Stream project is to make Germany less dependent on supplies of Russian gas via Ukraine, which have been interrupted in recent years by repeated acrimonious disputes between Moscow and Kiev. But it has faced fierce opposition from Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states, which fear Moscow could use it to increase political pressure on Eastern Europe.

The European Union currently receives a quarter of its gas supplies from Russia.

The president of the Nord Stream consortium, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, promised the pipeline’s environmental impact would be “minimal,” citing studies he said cost €100 million ($134 million).

The project was personal priority of Schröder, who always supported closer ties between Berlin and Moscow during his time in office. However, he faced considerable criticism for taking a job with the consortium so soon after leaving power in 2004.

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UKRAINE

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.

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