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By doing so, Denmark has created another crack in the rift between those European Union and NATO members already divided by the pipeline’s association with Russia.

The United States, which critics point out wants to sell energy to Western Europe itself, and many of its allies in Europe and NATO, namely Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine and others, oppose the pipeline, saying the -billion project would increase Moscow’s ability to use gas supplies as a diplomatic weapon.

Project officials say more than two-thirds of the pipeline is already completed, with permission secured to construct through the maritime territories of Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Germany.

Only Denmark stands in its way.“They are almost getting to the point where they have built everything except what is in the Danish zone,” said Hans Mouritzen, a senior researcher on foreign policy at the Danish Institute for International Studies.“Denmark needs a good relationship with Germany,” Mouritzen said.

“But the Germans are phasing out coal, and they are phasing out nuclear power plants, so they really need this gas.”Denmark, like many of its European allies opposed to Nord Stream 2, sees the Russian gas pipeline as a risk because it would allow an aggressive Moscow to use gas supplies as a diplomatic weapon.

Nord Stream 2 is a project of Russian state energy firm Gazprom, which has partnered with major European energy companies — including Germany’s Uniper and BASF’s Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch firm Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie — for 50% of the construction funding. sanctions bill creates worries about a controversial Russian pipeline » The European Union already gets 50% of its gas supplies from Russia, some of it flowing through the nearly parallel Nord Stream pipeline, which was completed in 2012.

“Russia takes a constructive position on this issue and is ready to continue gas transit through Ukraine and ensure supplies to European consumers.

We are ready to extend the contract under current conditions,” Novak was quoted as saying.

A final decision deadline has not been set, agency spokesman Ture Falbe-Hansen told Danish news agencies on June [email protected]: @sabraayres Ayres is a special correspondent.

As Nord Stream-2 builders are planning to finish the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany underneath the Baltic Sea by the end of the year, the European Commission wants Moscow to provide guarantees of keeping the Ukrainian gas transit after the contract expires in December 2019.

On 13 June, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič visited Moscow where he held a bilateral meeting with Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, discussing strategic energy-related issues, including Trilateral Gas Talks on the long-term continuation of gas flows to the EU via Ukraine and the synchronisation of the Baltic States’ electricity systems with continental Europe.

The proposed completion date coincides with a renewal date for Gazprom’s supply and transit deal with Ukraine.

That has Ukrainians, who are at war with Russian-backed separatist militias in its eastern regions, worried.

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Eastern European leaders in particular fear it will increase Moscow’s influence in the region.

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