BELGRADE, June 17 (RIA Novosti) — Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said he was sure the halting of the South Stream pipeline construction was “temporary” because it is the only solution to delivering gas to southeastern Europe.
“I have no doubts that halting [the South Stream pipeline construction] is temporary. I emphasize once again that South Stream is the single system solution to the issue of supply gas to southeastern Europe," Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic.
In 2012 Russia started construction of the South Stream pipeline, which bypasses Ukraine for gas deliveries to Southern and Eastern Europe, instead travelling across the Black Sea.
The European Commission earlier said Russia’s talks with transit countries Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia violated EU legislation. Moscow in turn initiated legal proceedings in the WTO against the EU’s Third Energy Package, under which owners of pipelines located in the region cannot also be gas producers. Europe also encouraged Bulgaria to suspend construction on its territory as part of sanctions against Russia due to the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
The first deliveries via South Stream are not expected until 2016, with the pipeline planned to be fully operational in 2018.