Berlin will continue to try to guarantee Ukraine a transit role for Russian gas supplies says German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Her comments came on Friday, February 5, during the joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron following the Franco-German Defense and Security Council meeting.
The German Chancellor stressed that Berlin has continually made efforts to ensure that Ukraine continues to act as a transit state for Russian gas.
"We will continue to do this, including within the framework of work with Ukraine and Russia in the Minsk format," Merkel assured.
During the meeting, Merkel reiterated her position on the Nord Stream 2 issue that "Germany considers the project to be entrepreneurial, but with political complications which plays a large role in transatlantic relations." She condemned the extraterritorial sanctions.
Nord Stream, led by Russian company Gazprom, has been sanctioned by the U.S. and has sparked concerns that the direct gas link poses geopolitical risks by increasing German dependence on Russian energy and bypassing Ukraine.
The German chancellor noted that it is strategically important to maintain a dialogue with Russia on many issues, including geostrategic ones, despite "very deep divisions."
In this context, she added that in recent months the Russian Federation has taken a few steps concerning the situation in Ukraine.
According to Merkel, the Ukraine issue must be kept on the agenda, for which it is also necessary to maintain dialogue with Putin.
French President Emmanuel Macron also said that "Germany and France want to be able to have a strategic discussion with Russia which is demanding especially in the area of energy."
"On this project, which is almost finished, nothing will be announced without close Franco-German coordination. What we want is to continue to work together on a more sovereign European energy strategy," Macron said.
The Kremlin stoked further tension on Friday by ordering diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden to leave the country over their "recorded participation" in protests against the jailing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Both leaders strongly condemned the action, but vowed to maintain diplomatic ties with Moscow.
Earlier in December 2019, the U.S. passed legislation providing for sanctions on a ship involved in building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Due to the U.S. sanctions, its construction was suspended.
However, the Russian side, with the consent of the German side, resumed work on its own, using the Fortuna pipe-laying ship. The 1,200 km long gas pipeline worth almost EUR 9.5 billion is 94% completed.
The United States opposes the project, arguing that it will strengthen the Kremlin's grip on the European energy market while undermining Ukraine's security and economy.