Russia Standing Behind Pipeline Risk

Responding to fears over the possible risks that may come with the proposed three-way gas pipeline from Russia to South Korea via the North, Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Konstantin Vnukov reaffirmed again on Tuesday that Moscow is ready to shoulder that burden.

Delivering the keynote address at a forum held by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation in central Seoul, Ambassador Vnukov asserted that Russia is in a position to “guarantee the risks arising from the North Korea pipeline.”

The ambassador’s words mirror an earlier pledge given by President Dimitry Medvedev during a summit meeting with President Lee Myung Bak in St. Petersburg on November 2nd, in which the Russian president revealed that his country would be willing to assume responsibility for the security risks associated with the project.

Vnukov also reaffirmed the benefits of the project for South Korea, saying, “Russian natural gas is coming into South Korea at the moment, but if imports were to be brought in via a pipeline, the cost would fall by 20-30%.”

He further noted that there is already a gas pipeline network in Russia stretching as far as the Russia-North Korea border region, meaning that “practical discussion about this can be had,” although he noted that it would require greater tripartite cooperation.

“Russia is pushing forward with joint projects including not only the gas pipeline but also the railways project,” he concluded, “These projects offer benefits to all of the North, the South and Russia, and help with the security of the Korean Peninsula and the normalization of inter-Korean dialogue.”