Remarks to the Press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia following UNSC consultations on the terrorist attack against the Nord Stream gas pipeline (September 2022)
Vassily Nebenzia: The Security Council has just discussed behind the closed doors the situation regarding the investigations into the act of terrorism against the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea in September 2022.
As you may recall, during the Council’s briefing on 26 September 2023, one year after the act of terrorism in question, we announced that we were going to propose a draft statement of the President of the Security Council that would send a strong message on inadmissibility of attacks against major underwater cross-country gas pipeline infrastructure as well as on the necessity to hold its organizers and perpetrators accountable. However, the reality proved that not all the Council members share this approach.
Throughout the negotiations on our PRST, the Russian Federation did its best to ensure a balanced reflection of views of all the Council members in the text while preserving its crucial elements. After thorough discussions with all the colleagues, the text was seriously adapted in order to address their concerns. However, it did not garner consensual support of the Council, and, frankly, we were quite puzzled with some of the arguments put forward by the Western colleagues. Just to name a few without going into details.
As you are well aware of, the Russian Federation is deeply concerned with the fact that one year after the Nord Stream attack we still do not have any concrete information regarding the investigations conducted by Denmark, Germany and Sweden, let alone any of their findings. This situation is aggravated by the spread of questionable, not to say absurd accounts of events circulated in the media that only distract – most probably in a deliberate way – the attention of the international community from establishing the facts around the crime in question. Nevertheless, we demonstrated utmost flexibility on that, and the final version of our PRST contained very mild and prudent language, taking note of the information provided so far by the three European states and stressing the importance of expedited conclusion of their investigations. However, the Western members of the Council still saw it as some kind of “pressure” on national authorities.
Moreover, we faced persistent attempts to remove the language encouraging Denmark, Germany and Sweden to cooperate with the Russian Federation and the operator of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. And what is even more striking, some of the Western colleagues suggested removing the language on the necessity to ensure accountability for the Nord Stream act of terrorism and to hold those responsible accountable. We are struggling to understand how those willing to establish all the circumstances of a crime can neglect the interaction with the parties concerned as well as assume that this act can be left unpunished. However, these cynical attempts do not come as a surprise to us as they go in line with assumptions that the organizers and perpetrators even may not be identified, contained in one of the letters by Denmark, Germany and Sweden circulated in the Council.
The approach taken by our Western colleagues towards the work on our draft PRST is quite revealing and can only amplify our suspicions on who is responsible for the Nord Stream act of terrorism. There is no need to recall the threats against the functioning of this gas pipeline by the US establishment including President Biden, their open joy and satisfaction with its disruption, the opposition of the Western states towards the idea of conducting impartial international investigation under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General and continuing “leakages” of absurd accounts of events for the sake of distracting attention of the international community. And now we have yet another example of their persistent attempts to sweep this issue under the carpet.
Such an approach is even more surprising amidst the backdrop of very expedited investigation of the damage inflicted on 8 October to the “Balticconnector” gas pipeline and underwater cable between Finland and Estonia. The Finnish authorities immediately highlighted the need for rapid and thorough investigation of this incident, while the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen condemned any acts of deliberate destruction of gas pipelines and underwater cables. And just 10 days later, on 19 October, preliminary findings were made public. You can easily see the double standards that are so common for our Western colleagues in action here. The Baltic states can easily proceed with quick actions on establishing the circumstances of incidents regarding underwater cross-country gas pipeline infrastructure when they need or want to. The more they remain silent about their investigations of the “Nord Stream” act of terrorism, the more revealing the situation becomes from the point of view of true intentions of the Western States on dragging time in order to make the international community forget this story.
However, the Russian Federation will not let it happen. We will spare no effort to ensure that the Council remains seized of this matter and that the Nord Stream act of terrorism is properly investigated and accountability is ensured. We appreciate the support of the Council colleagues who agreed with our text and encourage them, as well as all the constructively engaged states, to jointly ensure that the crimes like this will not be tolerated.
Q: Can I ask you about Gaza and the resolution? How do the negotiations go?
A: Something is happening behind the scenes. But I don't have anything to offer to you yet.
Q: Do you have any feeling when it could come to a vote?
A: I cannot give you an answer at this stage.
Q: Ambassador, what do you think of [US Secretary of State] Blinken's proposal that the Palestine Authority take over the governance of West Bank and Gaza when and if the war ends?
A: I'm the wrong person to ask this question. What will happen? This is not the time to discuss what will be in Gaza and how Gaza will be governed. Now is the time to stop the fire and to preserve the lives of civilians that are being killed on a massive scale. We are not in the timeframe where we are discussing the future of Gaza. We have to save its present.