The chief executive of Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden met President Vladimir Putin at his private residence on Friday, telling the Russian strongman that the company wanted to expand its operations in Russia. The meeting between the Shell chief and Putin was the latest signal from the Kremlin that it is keen to keep ties with European big business despite the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Putin had held a similar meeting on March 26 with the chief executive of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, who reassured the Russian president that the German industrial giant planned a long-term investment in Russia. Van Buerden told Putin that Shell wanted to expand the Sakhalin-2 offshore oil and gas project in the Pacific which is already delivering Russian LNG to Asian markets. The project is controlled by Russian gas giant Gazprom with Shell as the main minority shareholder. "I think that now is the right moment for expanding the project," van Buerden told Putin at his residence outside Moscow, Russian news agencies reported in comments translated into Russian. "And of course one of the aims of my visit and meeting with you, Mr President, is to ask for support for the project for your side," he added. Putin replied that he was glad Shell wanted to expand its operations in Russia and promised that "we will show the necessary administrative support." Van Buerden told Putin that Shell had already been working in Russia for over a century and wanted to carry on. "We have a long-term vision of cooperation with your country and we want to remain your reliable partner in the long term," he was quoted as saying. According to media reports, European Union states with significant economic interests in Russia such as Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, are reluctant to impose tough sanctions against the country over its intervention in Ukraine.