An official ceremony has taken place to mark the start of the underwater passage construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the ceremony near Vyborg.
The pipeline from Russia to western Europe has been mired in controversy and only received the go-ahead in February amid fears its planned path could damage the Baltic Sea.
Nord Stream consortium chairman and former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, said all steps where being taken to ensure the project proceeds as safely as possible.
“The shareholders are very proud of the fact that Nord Stream is, among all the pipelines, the one with the very latest technology,” said Schroeder.
The pipeline will pass through Russia, Finnish, Swedish and German waters, therefore by-passing transit territories.
Russia provides up to 30 per cent of Europe’s gas needs and many European countries have been keen to secure alternative energy suppliers.