Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken part in the ceremony for laying the first section of pipeline for state-owned gas company Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline project.
When completed, the pipeline will carry some 63 billion cubic meters of gas to Italy and Austria via a pipeline network running through southeastern Europe.
Joining Putin on December 7 for the launch ceremony were Kurt Boch, director of German company BASF, the general director of Italy's ENI Paolo Scaroni, general director of France's state-owned electric company EDF Henri Proglio and others.
Gazprom hoped to include Turkey in the project but Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, who was also at the launch ceremony, told reporters his country was not interested in joining South Stream though Ankara remains interested in receiving more Russian gas.
Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax