MOSCOW- Russia's Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline is expected to begin operations in mid-2020, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Thursday.
The link will double the annual capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline, which crosses the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, to 110 billion cubic metres.
Russia is building the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines to bolster supply to Europe while bypassing Ukraine.
Moscow's relations with Kiev have deteriorated since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Talks to renew the current contract on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and via the country to Europe, which is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, have not yet yielded any results.
Kozak said on Thursday that Moscow has made every effort to avoid a "gas war" with Ukraine.
(Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Jason Neely) ((email@example.com; +7 495 775 12 42;))