oil tanker
© Nord Stream 2 / Axel Schmidt 29
Commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is a commercial project, does not mean that Russia will abandon gas transit through Ukraine, said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

While meeting with German business executives in Sochi, he said: "The pipe laying of the Nord Stream 2 is close to completion now; its commissioning will make it possible to double Russian gas supplies over the Baltic route."

He added: "This will be an extra contribution to satisfying the demand in Germany and other countries." The Russian president added that Nord Stream 2 "is a purely commercial project" and the government is not participating in it.

"I reiterated many times to avoid any misinterpretations and would like to say once again, it does not mean, at all, that Russia intends to stop transit through the territory of Ukraine," Putin said, expressing hopes that the Russian and Ukrainian energy firms will find a mutually acceptable solution regarding natural gas transit to European countries.

The Nord Stream 2 project, which was designed to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany and other European customers, is scheduled to begin operating in the middle of next year. The pipeline, which runs from the Russian Baltic coast to Germany, will deliver 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe.

With more than 50 percent of Russian gas supplies to the EU traditionally flowing through Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 (which is the extension of the Nord Stream gas pipeline) has been built as a supplementary route to guarantee stable supplies to the EU. The pipeline cannot cover all of Europe's gas needs.

According to Putin, Germany is one of Russia's major economic partners and Moscow seeks to further strengthen mutual ties.

"We greatly appreciate the pragmatism of German business, the willingness to work together, and strive to further develop bilateral relations in order to meet the long-term interests of both countries."

He pointed out that German investments in the Russian economy exceeded $20 billion while Russia's counter-investment stands at $10 billion.