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German military asks for change to Nord Stream route - paper


MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Germany's armed forces have demanded that the planned route of the Nord Stream gas pipeline linking to Russia be altered, Russian business daily reported Kommersant on Wednesday.

The 6 billion-euro pipeline being built jointly by Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea is planned to eventually pump 55 billion cu m of gas per year to Western Europe, bypassing traditional transit nations.

In a letter to the defense committee of the country's lower house of parliament, the Bundeswehr (armed forces) said it was concerned that the pipeline would be laid close to a sea testing ground near the Island of Rugen, which is actively used for naval exercises, Kommersant said.

The paper said the German military had repeatedly voiced concern over the Nord Stream project. The latest statement by the Bundeswehr's top officials echoed complaints made in January 2007 by commanders of the Northern District based in Kiel, who said construction would be adjacent to zones where the German Army and Navy hold exercises.

Nord Stream AG, the project operator, has confirmed that the Bundeswehr filed the request during public consultations on the project.

"We have studied the issue closely, and invited the leading international experts to analyze potential risks. Dialogue is currently being held with the relevant German departments. We are sure to find a solution that will relieve tensions over the proposed route," Nord Stream AG spokesman Jens Muller said.

According to Kommersant, the issue is also likely to be addressed in Moscow by visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will meet with Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later on Wednesday.

The Nord Stream project has been repeatedly delayed over Baltic nations' environmental and security concerns. Putin visited Finland earlier this month to assure his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen that participants in the project were ready to alter the route in line with Finland's environmental concerns.

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