Over the past year, as pipeline company after pipeline company yielded to the threat of proposed U.S.sanctions on European companies participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Russian President Vladimir Putin was calmly biding his time, saying that if the Europeans pull out his own pipe laying vessel, the Akademik Cherskiy, would enter the fray and complete the job.
According to the ship tracking data, the vessel arrived at Mukran port - where pipes for the Nord Stream 2 are stored - on Tuesday Oct. 27, having been near the Russian port of Kaliningrad since early October.
Construction of the 1,230 km pipeline is nearly finished but a final stretch of about 120 km in Danish waters still needs to be laid.
The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which Moscow is building on the bed of the Baltic Sea to Germany to double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s capacity, has become a focal point of Russian tensions with the West.
Critics of the pipeline say it will increase Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. The Kremlin last week said that U.S. sanctions targeting the project were unfriendly and destructive to bilateral Russian-American relations.
Nord Stream 2 is led by Russian gas giant Gazprom GAZP.MM, with half of the funding provided by Germany's Uniper UN01.DE and BASF's BASFn.DE Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell RDSa.L, Austria's OMV OMVV.VI and Engie ENGIE.PA.