Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on acts of sabotage at the Nord Stream pipeline
We thank representatives of the UN Secretariat and Gazprom for the information they shared. We also thank Mr. Eyl-Mazzega. I will not comment on his interesting yet I think not always objective presentation of what has and is happening at the LNG market. We have a representative of Gazprom with us today, who may do the commenting if he wishes.
Russia requested this meeting in connection with the acts of sabotage at the three strings of the Nord Stream offshore pipeline system on 27 September 2022 in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and Sweden, not far away from the Danish island of Bornholm. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia has initiated proceedings under the criminal code article about acts of international terrorism. Preliminary investigation is underway.
Let us simply compare the facts.
Fact #1. A few weeks prior to the beginning of the special military operation US President J.Biden said, “ If Russia invades, that means tanks and troops crossing the border of Ukraine again, then there will be… there will be no longer Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it”.
When asked by a journalist how that could be possible since Nord Stream-2 was controlled by Germany and not the United States, Biden said, “I promise you we will be able to do it” – the idea that was largely picked up by many US officials.
Fact #2. In June 2022 the Danish island of Bornholm, where the incident would take place in three months from that moment, served as the location for NATO’s military exercise BALTOPS in the Baltic Sea.
According to the American media “Sea Power”, during the exercise NATO focused on testing unmanned underwater vehicles – the task for which the water area around Bornholm was best suited. After the exercise was completed, USS Kearsarge assault ship did not leave the Baltic Sea and remained in the vicinity of the island until the second decade of September. Most interestingly, the ship’s helicopter squad started patrolling the area around Bornholm as early as in August, and the flight line of those aircraft surprisingly coincided with the pipeline route. I emphasize that this is open data on geolocation of sea and air transport which is collected on the basis of the transponders’ signal. It means that the United States did not conceal its presence in the area and completed its maneuvers in an exhibitory and ostentatious way.
Fact #3. Right after the incident, former Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Poland Radek Sikorski posted a photo from the explosion site on his twitter feed and complimented the United States for this sabotage. “Thank you USA”, that’s what he wrote. But he did not stop at that and went even further, adding the following comment. “There’s no shortage of pipeline capacity for taking gas from Russia to Western Europe, including Germany. Nord Stream’s only logic was for Putin to be able to blackmail or wage war on Eastern Europe with impunity”. Yesterday he deleted this publication, apparently having realized that he had said more than he should have. We cannot fail to mention that Mr.Sikorski’s spouse, Anne Applebaum, is a person who is well received in Washington’s power circles and therefore has access to information of various sorts.
Fact #4. Almost simultaneously with the sabotage at the Nord Stream, the opening ceremony of another gas transportation facility, the Baltic Pipe, was taking place in the Polish city of Goleniow. It is a pipeline from Norway which Poland has long perceived as a salvation from the Nord Stream, even though its capacity cannot be compared to that of the Nord Stream.
Fact #5. NATO’s statement with regard to the incident, where the alliance warns about the dangerous consequences to follow any prospective attacks on its infrastructure. As if NATO was afraid someone might want to exact revenge on them. Well, as the proverb goes, uneasy conscience betrays itself.
In any investigation, you first need to identify who would benefit from the situation, or, as the investigators put it, who had the motive and the opportunity to commit a criminal wrongdoing. Let’s speculate on that a little. Would European states benefit from the disruption of the Nord Stream? Hardly so, because this would make them dependent on a pricier and extremely unreliable supplier. I mean the host country of the UN Headquarters. Except Polish, Czech, and Baltic politicians whom Russophobia has driven completely crazy, European experts cannot fail to realize – even amidst EU’s overriding anti-Russian hysteria – the danger of this scenario and its implications for the European economy. Baltic water area suffered considerable environmental damage. Marine navigation is under threat. Colleagues from Denmark and Sweden confirmed this in their respective letters to the Security Council.
Objective relevance of Nord Stream 1 and 2 and their contribution to Europe’s energy security was repeatedly underscored at the level of the highest officials of the EU and its member states. The European Commission has always regarded Nord Stream as a project of EU common interest, which had its complete political support. This pipeline system contributed greatly to diversifying LNG supply routes, just like Yamal-Europe and the Turkish Stream pipelines. When those pipes became operational, it allowed Europe to ease its dependence on transit gas deliveries from Ukraine, where authorities indulged in shady business practices or, simply stated, thievery.
For many years, the German leadership has been saying that the demand for LNG in Europe and Germany would only grow. Austrian authorities said back in 2021 that the Nord Stream supported the European energy security, and welcomed steps aimed at enhancing reliability of energy deliveries to Europe. Effects of the current energy crisis proved the case of all those who admitted the relevance of the Nord Stream for stable and predictable energy supply. Interruptions in gas supplies in 2022 caused by sanction-related actions of the European and American authorities are already negatively affecting the European industry, its profitability and competitiveness, provoking the emigration of skilled labor and the transfer of production capacities outside Europe (in particular, to the United States) Energy poverty is back on the agenda not only for developing, but also for developed states. Resumption of deliveries, primarily under long-term contracts, as Russia has and continues to offer, would make it possible to stabilize the situation in the manufacturing industries and avoid an energy collapse.
Next question is if Russia benefits from disrupting the Nord Stream. If we consider it in terms of sound logic rather than delusional fantasies that Russians are ready to do whatever to intimidate Europe, then the answer is no. There is no point for us to undermine the project which cost us huge investment and which would bring us considerable economic returns. By the way it were you, the West, who claimed that we profiteered from exporting energy resources while the prices spiked.
Now the most important question – does the United States benefit from what happened to the Nord Stream? Of course it does. American LNG suppliers now can celebrate a manifold increase of LNG deliveries to Europe. In political terms, the last pillar that maintained European energy independence was ruined. Amidst the energy crisis, European manufacturing facilities are being relocated to the United States, which receives foremost personnel, technology, industrial capacities – everything that consolidated Europe has been accumulating and developing for decades. The people of Europe will be left face-to-face with their problems. Across the ocean, nobody cares that a long, dark, and cold winter is looming for the European continent.
Proceeding from these simple and very logical points, let me ask the representative of the United States this one thing. Can you confirm, here and now, that your country has nothing to do with this sabotage?
Colleagues, of course we do not expect to identify and punish the perpetrators today. The Security Council is not a judiciary body and should assume no such tasks. So Russia stands for a comprehensive investigation that should clarify the true circumstances of what happened with the pipeline.
Today, we very much like to hear the opinion of our European colleagues, learn your official position. We hope that you will abstain from Russophobic and senseless spiel which you resorted to when we were talking about attacks on the Zaporozhye NPP by Ukrainian armed forces. Or should we anticipate a statement where you will say that after the “masochistic” shelling of the ZNPP where our forces are deployed, we started exploding our own pipelines?
It is obvious that a sabotage of such scale and complexity cannot be carried out by ordinary terrorists. We consider the assault against the Nord Stream pipeline as a premeditated sabotage of Russia’s key energy infrastructure facility. Such attack could not have been carried out without involvement of state or state-controlled entities. We will surely identify all who were complicit in this sabotage. Those who stood behind it cannot be considered as a non-side in an armed conflict. Neither can they count on a neutral status that Western states already violated. Besides, an international investigation of the incident can only claim to be objective if Russian experts take part in it. Also, we believe the investigation should involve not only Denmark and Sweden, but also representatives of the German side, because Germany is the main recipient of the LNG transported by the Nord Stream.
If involvement of certain states in those terrorist attacks is proven, this will mean deliberate escalation of the conflict. Colleagues, I hope all in this chamber realize to what dangerous line the perpetrators of this sabotage are driving us.
In response to the representative of the United States:
I thank my American colleague for giving a straightforward answer to my question.
I asked: “Can you confirm here and now that your country has nothing to do with this sabotage?” What my American colleague has just said in this chamber is that the United States denies any involvement in this incident. I appreciate his response. But now that I have heard what you and also our British colleague said, I would like to ask another question. What exactly do you call Russian disinformation and conspiracy theories? We did not call anyone responsible before the investigation. We just cited some facts. You cannot deny that your president said what he said publicly, can you? We just provided some quotes of what he said.
NATO exercise BALTOPS in June 2022 near the island of Bornholm is a fact. Former Foreign Minister of Poland R.Sikorski publishing the tweet that I showed you, where he thanked the US for what had happened at the pipe is a fact. Launch of the Baltic Pipe connecting Norway and Poland is a fact. NATO speaking about sabotage and inadmissibility of strikes against its infrastructure is yet another fact. Those are mere facts. Are you going to argue that the current energy crisis objectively makes American energy suppliers more competitive? Is it also a conspiracy theory? No, this is economic reality. And objectively, the United States benefits from it in economic terms.
Finally, before our American colleague took the floor today, we had not thought of the Nord Stream incident as something connected to the situation around Ukraine. But now we see that our European colleagues perceive this sabotage, whoever may have committed it, as some sort of revenge for Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Well, I think this inference narrows down the list of suspects and can be of great help in the investigation.