© Hannibal Hanschke/ReutersGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the Nord Stream 2 is an economic project that will benefit large parts of Europe, criticizing US attempts to undermine it.

Speaking to journalists in Moscow along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Merkel argued that "sanctions are the wrong way to go." Both leaders vowed that the gas pipeline project will be finished against all odds.

In December, the US State Department issued an ultimatum to European companies taking part in the project, threatening them with sanctions if they do not cease their work by January 20. The US says the project will harm the interests of Poland and Ukraine, which will lose billions of dollars in transit fees from Moscow, as well as limiting Europe's opportunities for energy diversification.

Merkel dismissed these arguments at a joint press conference with Putin, stating that "everyone" in Germany and Europe "is interested in diversifying the gas supply and we are going to continue working in this direction," while saying the Nord Stream 2 is of the "utmost importance. It will be implemented no matter what. In the future, we will support the project as we did in the past."

President Putin told journalists that Russia is capable of finishing the project on its own "without involving any foreign partners," though the schedule for construction could be extended by a couple of months. "Either by the end of this year or early next year, the work will be finished and the pipe will be up and running."

He also said that Moscow respects "the responsible position of the German authorities when it comes to Nord Stream 2." Both leaders have supported the project throughout the construction period despite pressure from the US.

Washington's December ultimatum failed to change the minds of Moscow and Berlin, although Swiss-Dutch construction company Allseas caved in and has halted operations in the Baltic Sea.

The US move was also met with condemnation in Brussels. The European Commission said at the time that it "strongly rejects" the American crackdown on EU companies, which have all legal grounds to take part in the pipeline project.