While Anglo-Dutch energy firm Shell has been talking of the progress it has made towards resolving environmental issues relating to its Sakhalin-2 gas project, Russian officials have continued to talk of heavy sanctions.

Shell’s chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, has said that the majority of the issues relating to the suspension of Shell’s license to operate on the east Russian island have been resolved.

However, in a stark contrast, Russian authorities have continued to talk up the threat of extensive sanctions for failing to remedy the problems. In fact, around the same time that Mr van der Veer has been suggesting the issue is close to resolution, Russian resources minister Yuri Trutnev has instead been pointing out that the sky is the limit on the potential sanctions facing the western European company.

According to the Guardian, while Shell believes it is addressing Moscow’s concerns, Mr Trutnev has stated that an exhaustive plan to deal with ecological problems must be in place.

The apparent divergence in attitudes between the two sides has again raised concerns that Russia is using the environmental issue as a smoke screen to take control of the natural gas project.