Russian President Vladimir Putin encouraged the co-owner of a Russian natural gas company to brag a bit more publicly about the first shipment of fuel to be delivered to the United States, the Moscow Times reported on Thursday.
“The first tanker has already arrived in the United States,” Putin told Gennady Timchenko, co-owner of the Russian partner in Yamal LNG, a $27 billion Arctic project which the Kremlin leader has made a personal priority, despite U.S. financial sanctions. “The media has already put out the information but you’re still scared to.”
Putin personally presided over the opening of the Yamal LNG project in December, touting it as “our common victory.”
The billionaire Timchenko was one of the first Russian businessmen to be hit with U.S. sanctions in 2014 following the crisis in Ukraine and has a history with Putin dating back to the 1990s.
“This fact is known to the market, but we’re not screaming about it because we’re a bit afraid,” he told Putin at a meeting with visiting French business leaders late Wednesday at the presidential residence outside Moscow. “We’re businessmen.”
“Well, I’m not a businessman, so I think it’s possible to talk about this,” Putin said.
Carrying natural gas for U.S. consumption, the tanker Gaselys docked near Boston, Massachusetts Sunday, bringing fuel needed to help heat homes during a particularly cold winter.