Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said the contentious Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline might be delayed by a couple months due to fresh U.S. sanctions against the project but there's nothing "catastrophic" about the situation.
"Of course we will finish building [the pipeline]," Medvedev was quoted by Reuters as telling journalists on December 23. "Gazprom has alternative options for how to lay it. It will take a little more time, but that's no big deal."
He added, "There's nothing catastrophic about [the sanctions], especially considering the fact that we have already reached an agreement with the Ukrainians about transit."
U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on participants in Nord Stream 2 on December 20, prompting one major contractor to halt its work.
The $11 billion project is just weeks away from its scheduled completion, and analysts have been divided on whether the imposition of sanctions at such a late stage could halt the project.
The consortium building it says there are about 160 kilometers of the planned 2,460-kilometer pipeline, which should run along the bed of the Baltic Sea, left to complete.
Nord Stream 2 could double Nord Stream 1's current export capacity to around 110 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year via its German terminus.
Critics, including some Europeans, have warned it will increase the European Union's reliance on Russian gas at a time when Europe should be reducing its dependence to the east.
Moscow has accused Washington of trying to thwart Nord Stream 2 in order to boost sales of American liquefied natural gas to Europe.
Germany denounced the U.S. sanctions as meddling in its internal affairs.
The European Commission said in its third-quarter 2019 consumption report that Russia accounted for 45 percent of the European Union's gas imports, according to TASS.