Russia: new gas pipeline will go ahead despite setback

In this photo taken Friday, June 13, 2014, a Serbian flag is seen on a gas pipe on the first section of the Gazprom South Stream natural gas pipeline near the village of Sajkas, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia is closely watching the dispute between the EU and Russia over the construction of the South Stream pipeline, designed to bypass Ukraine in delivering gas to Europe. Experts said that pipeline is of a "Vital Importance" for Europe which largely depends on Russian gas. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Copyright 2014, The Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russia's foreign minister insists the EU's order to halt construction work on the South Stream pipeline in Bulgaria is only a brief delay in the project planned to bypass Ukraine as a transit country and consolidate Russia's energy grip in Europe.

Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday "there are absolutely no changes in plans, I have absolutely no doubt that this halt is only temporary."

The South Stream pipeline, in which Russian state gas company Gazprom holds a 50-percent stake, would provide an alternative supply route for Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy from 2018.

Bulgaria froze work upon orders of the European Commission, which said Bulgaria hadn't respected rules on awarding public contracts. The Commission has also delayed some political talks on the pipeline amid the Ukrainian crisis.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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