July 10 (UPI) -- Ukraine appreciates the U.S. efforts to block the expansion of a Russian natural gas pipeline running through the Baltic Sea, the country's president said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poreshenko hosted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during the weekend, as U.S. President Donald Trump met with international leaders at a summit in Hamburg for the Group of 20 economies.
Poreshenko said continued U.S. support for Ukrainian reforms enacted since Kiev pivoted away from Russia in 2014 extended into the energy sector, including the possibility of investments in oil and natural gas.
"I would like to say thank you especially for cooperation in energy sector, especially in preventing the realization of political project of Nord Stream 2, and I appreciate the clear and efficient position in preventing the implementation of this highly politicized project," the Ukrainian president said in a statement.
Nord Stream runs from the Baltic Sea to Germany. Russian energy company Gazprom started calling for tenders to lay the sections of the planned extension in the deep waters of the Baltic Sea in early 2016 and maintains the additional components could be in service at some point in 2019.
Ukraine is central to the regional debate over energy security. Russia meets about a quarter of Europe's natural gas needs, though more than half of that runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine. As a result, lingering spats between Kiev and Moscow have exposed risks to European energy security.
Maros Sefcovic, the European official in charge of energy issues, said the European Commission adopted a broader EU request for a mandate to renegotiate the terms for the second string of Nord Stream. Last month, he said the expansion does not contribute to the Energy Union's objectives of market competitiveness and diversity.
U.S. sanctions imposed after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014 extend into the energy sector. Though U.S. and Russian relations for the Trump administration are complicated by an investigation into meddling in the U.S. election process, the secretary of state said pressure remained on the Kremlin.
"The U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions," he said.