Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the acts of sabotage at the Nord Stream pipeline
We thank Mr.Dirk Pohlmann and Mr.Jimmy Dore for their reports that have once again proven it to the Security Council that people in Western states also have lots of questions to their governments against the backdrop of numerous irregularities in the narrative that is promoted by Washington and its allies as regards the blasts at the Nord Stream pipeline in September 2022.
It has been a year since the sabotage in the Baltic Sea and almost as much since the Security Council convened on this issue for the first time. During that time, we have heard numerous assertions that national investigations by Germany, Denmark, and Sweden would allow to identify the perpetrators very soon. However there have been no results so far despite the seven UNSC meeting in both open and closed formats.
At the same time, more and more evidence is emerging in the expert community that it is Washington who stood behind the disruption of the Nord Stream pipeline and went ahead with this outrageous criminal act guided by a narrowly self-interested desire to consolidate its dominance in Europe, which is in dire need of Russian energy.
The sad anniversary today is a good opportunity to recover the timeline. Let’ briefly recall the major developments.
On 28 September, right after the sabotage, General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation instituted criminal proceedings pursuant to Criminal Code article “Act of international terrorism”. In a letter dated 29 September, Denmark and Sweden stated that the Nord Stream blast had been caused by explosive devices, which seems to be the only concrete conclusion they have made during all this time. However, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Germany started an official inquiry only on 10 October.
In October 2022, Head of Government of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin, addressed letters to Berlin, Copenhagen, and Stockholm about the need to conduct a comprehensive investigation with the participation of Russian authorities and representatives of PJSC GAZPROM. We have received no answers to those communications in this past year.
In November, General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation submitted requests to competent German, Danish, and Swedish authorities to provide legal aid and establish joint investigative taskforce. We received but formal replies. Council members had the opportunity to see for themselves because in March we circulated copies of these communications with the mentioned authorities as official UNSC documents.
Against the backdrop of this unacceptable situation, Russia put forward to the Security Council a draft resolution requesting the Secretary-General to provide proposals on establishing an independent international commission to investigate into the sabotage. Today will mark six months since that vote. The text was absolutely de-politicized and accounted for all concrete comments and proposals that Council members had made during the 4 weeks of informal consultations. But the resolution was not adopted. May I remind that the central argument by our colleagues, those who abstained during the vote, was the complete confidence (as they put it) in national investigations by Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Well, it has been six months, and no results have arrived. Even though concern over the lack of any meaningful news from Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm for such a long time has been expressed not only by Russia, China and Brazil, called for an international investigation back in March, but also by a few other members of the Security Council.
Moreover, in a clear show of disrespect for the Security Council, Germany, Denmark and Sweden ignored the request to speak at the UNSC meeting on July 11 and limited their involvement to circulating another letter, where they admitted quite frankly that the ongoing investigations might not yield any results at all. Let me ask this to our colleagues who support these national investigations with such zeal. What is the point of restraining the collective efforts of UNSC members if countries hosting national investigations have doubts about the effectiveness of their own work? All of this looks very much like feigning intense activity and an attempt to deprive the members of the Security Council of access to information that is directly relevant to the maintenance of international peace and security.
May I remind that we are not talking about a routine act of rowdiness. We are talking about a terrorist attack that affected international pipe infrastructure and entailed grave economic and environmental consequence for a range of states. No one denies that the blast was caused by an explosive device, therefore there is every reason to believe that it falls within the scope of the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings of 15 December 1997, which Germany, Denmark, and Sweden are parties to. This international legal tool enshrines unambiguous obligations for its parties to investigate crimes, extradite or try the perpetrators, and "afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with investigations, or criminal, or extradition proceedings". The authorities of the three States in question continue to ignore these commitments. Against the background of a lack of substantive information, the words of Germany’s Federal Chancellor Scholz about the intention to go all the way through with this matter are strikingly at odds with reality.
Besides, there are more signs indicating that instead of clarifying the circumstances, there are attempts to conceal them. Thus a campaign is taking place in Western media space for promoting absurd versions of what had happened. In this past year, there have been all sorts of stories to that end, you just name it. That it was Russia who blew up a gas pipeline that was functioning in its interests – check. That it was done by some "tourists" on a sailing yacht, who (according to one version) acted almost on their own initiative and without state support – check, or (according to another) – received orders from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, V.Zaluzhny, who acted discreetly and without clearance from his immediate superior, President Zelensky – check. Even more ridiculous than that was a story published in some European media. According to it, intelligence services of Western states (the US included), were aware of the plans of the Ukrainians and even discouraged them from proceeding, but the Kiev still did it its way. But what we learned from the case when Ukraine rejected a peace treaty with Russia in March 2022 is that the Kiev authorities cannot go against their Western supervisors on such a serious issue.
One cannot fail to notice what all these versions have in common. Each of them denies Washington's involvement in this crime. And they all started to sprout like mushrooms after the rain when Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist Seymour Hersh published a large-scale investigation (our briefers mentioned it already) earlier this year. It contained a large number of facts showing that it had been American divers who planted the explosives at the Nord Stream pipes during the NATO’s exercise BALTOPS in the summer of 2022. By the way, today he published a new batch of materials in support of this version. It shows that the explosion had been carefully plotted for several months and that thought was given to how to "cover their tracks" after the attack. I recommend that all Council members familiarize themselves with his conclusions.
Also, we remember too well the words of President Biden who said at a joint presser with Chancellor Scholz of Germany on 7 February 2022, “<…> there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it”. Add to it the ill-concealed joy of Assistant Secretary of State V.Nuland who said in the Senate on 26 January 2023 that they were gratified that the pipeline turned into “a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea”. Add to this the publication on Twitter by former Foreign Minister of Poland R.Sikorski, where he thanked the United States for undermining the Nord Stream.
Let us not forget that some Western delegations on the Council, unable to cope with their emotions, directly pointed out at our meetings that the disruption of Nord Stream had been a response to Russia's actions in Ukraine. Such candid confessions would have allowed even a novice investigator to conclude this case without much trouble. But since Germany, Denmark and Sweden have been ordered to fence off the complicity of their overseas "big brother", their investigators have their hands tied and eyes closed. Therefore, as the same Seymour Hersh told us following the meeting between Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz, the American and German intelligence services had been instructed to come up with an alternative version of events and gradually leak it to the media. That's what they are doing, except that the fabrications turn out very unrealistic.
Besides, leaks about the real circumstances of the tragedy do not make the job of Western "storytellers" any easier. For example, we can recall a letter (available in open sources) of State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection of Germany P.Graichen to a member of Bundestag from the Left Party J.Nastich, dated October 7. As the letter has it, before the investigation started, the German authorities had some "intelligence information", the disclosure of which, they say, could harm the state interests of Germany. I wonder what kind of information would have harmed the party that seemed to be a victim alongside with Russia? In any case, this is yet another confirmation that Western investigators are not interested in discovering the truth, but rather consider it an impediment.
So what is it that we have today, one year after the attack? Threats by higher leadership of the United States as regards a transboundary underwater infrastructure facility to be followed by an explosion at that facility in an act of international terrorism that caused dangerous consequences for international peace and security, economy, environment, and navigation in the Baltic Sea. The undiluted glee of high-ranking representatives of the American and pro-American establishment, the resistance of Western countries to the idea of launching impartial and inclusive international efforts under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, and the obvious ineffectiveness of the German, Swedish and Danish national investigations. At the same time, a hype in the information space in order to shift responsibility to anyone but the United States in an attempt to come up with anything to oppose the objective facts. This being said, I do not even want to use the cliché phrase "draw your own conclusions". Whoever still (one year since the incident) has any illusions left should part with them now.
No doubt that today we will again hear our Western colleagues reprimand Russia for distracting the Security Council from more serious problems by insisting on holding this discussion of the terrorist attack against the Nord Stream. This tactic is not void of reason and quite understandable. They want to drag it out as long as they can, ideally for another year, or two, or three, and then state that the investigation no longer be possible due to the time passed.
You had better saved your time and effort, for all such attempts are doomed to failure. Our country will continue to seek an objective and thorough establishment of all the circumstances of the incident, with the obligatory involvement of Russian investigative bodies and interested parties, as well as bringing to justice all those who ordered and perpetrated the sabotage. To that end, we will use all means available, including in the Security Council.
As part of that work, my country intends to submit to the Council a draft PRST on this topic. We will present it in the coming days. We believe that the Security Council should make a clear statement on this terrorist attack and point to the need for an objective investigation and punishment of the perpetrators. We count on the support of all those who realize that otherwise any country can fall victim to such an attack from a State intoxicated by a sense of impunity. The Security Council must send a clear message that crimes against transboundary pipeline infrastructure are unacceptable and that there is no way of avoiding accountability for them. That is the only way to prevent them from recurring.