Russia and Germany have signed a ground-breaking agreement on the construction of a pipeline between the two countries. The deal will open the EU to Russia’s vast gas supplies and deepen Berlin’s relations with Moscow. The almost 1,000 kilometre pipeline will run from western Russia under the Baltic sea to the German coast. Work is expected to be completed in 2010.
The pact, which was signed by Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin, brings together the Russian gas monoply Gazprom with German chemical manufacturer BASF. The deal has not been welcomed by all EU members. The Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski criticised Germany for pushing ahead with a project that as he put it “went over our heads.” Analysts say Warsaw fears the pipeline will allow Russia to cut off its existing link to Germany – which also supplies Poland. Relations between the two former soviet countries remain cool.