German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on April 10 that the Nord Stream 2 project cannot go ahead without clarity on Ukraine’s role as a transit route for gas.

The project is a gas pipeline planned to run from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. It is slated to double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s annual capacity of 55bn cubic meters.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Eastern European and Baltic states fear the pipeline could increase reliance on Russian gas and undermine Ukraine’s role as a gas transit route, which provides valuable revenues to a country hit by a civil war with pro-Russian separatists.

According to energy firm Naftogaz expectations, Ukraine will earn around $3bn in 2018 from transit.

Germany, along with other potential beneficiaries of increased supplies in northern Europe, has so far backed the project.

“I made very clear that a Nord Stream 2 project is not possible without clarity on the future transit role of Ukraine,” Merkel told a joint news conference in Berlin with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

“So you can see that it is not just an economic issue but there are also political considerations,” she added.

Merkel said she had also discussed the project on the telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 9.

“I also said to President Putin yesterday: it cannot be that through Nord Stream 2, Ukraine has no further importance regarding the transit of gas,” she said.

The Ost-Ausschuss, which represents German business interests in Russia, issued a statement in support of Nord Steam 2. “To change the legal basis with hindsight for political reasons would hurt confidence in legal certainty.”

A spokesman said it was clear Ukraine would remain a transit country for gas.