Comprehensive Russian media reported on April 1 that Andrei Minen, the representative of the operator of the Russian “Nord Stream-2” natural gas pipeline project, said that the pipeline construction fleet is often provoked by foreign civilian and military vessels, which poses a direct threat to the safety of the project ship.
Minin pointed out that fishing boats, warships, submarines and aircraft involved in these “premeditated provocations” “probably for the first time in history that such unprecedented things have occurred”.
Foreign warships and aircraft appearing near the operation area of the Russian “Nord Stream-2” project
Minin said, “After the resumption of the construction of the sea section of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline in January 2021, the activities of warships, aircraft and helicopters, as well as foreign civilian vessels, have increased in the area, which are basically of a clear provocation.” He recalled that a 1.5-mile safe area would be drawn when such projects were operated, and ships not involved in the construction should not enter the safe area.
Nevertheless, foreign warships (with tactical numbers) are often seen near the technical ships operating in the project. Polish anti-submarine aircraft often fly over the operating area at low altitude and are very close to pipeline laying ships.
Minin said that the activity of foreign ships around the fleet has increased recently. On 28 March, an unidentified submarine partially surfaced less than a mile from the pipeline ship laid.
Considering that the anchorage distance of the pipeline ship is more than one mile, the submarine’s action may damage the ship’s entire anchorage positioning system and cause significant damage to the pipeline.
Unknown submarines appeared near the operation area of the Russian “Nord Stream-2” project
On 29 March, a Polish naval warship (tactical number 823) maneuvered near the pipeline laying ship, in which case the Russian support ship had to follow the warship along a parallel route.
In addition, in the second half of March, the number of low-altitude flights by foreign aircraft over Russian operating vessels increased.
In addition, Minin said that the dangerous incidents of fishing boats entering the safe zone and not communicating with radio in recent months have also increased.
On February 22, the Polish fishing boat SWI-106 entered the operational reserve, and the Russian side repeatedly tried to establish a radio connection with it, but failed. In this case, the Russian supply ship Vladislav Stryzhev was blocked between the fishing boat and the pipe laying boat, and the SWI-106 fishing boat directly hit the supply boat.
After the collision, Russia contacted the captain of the fishing boat, who claimed responsibility for the incident. Minin pointed out that if the supply ship did not take decisive action, it would hit the pipeline laying ship.
On March 30, two targets appeared again near the Russian operation ship, the first was a fishing boat, which changed its course without radio contact, and the second was southwest of the laying pipeline ship and left without responding to the radio connection.
Minin stressed that it is irresponsible and unacceptable for foreign warships and aircraft, as well as foreign civilian vessels, to do not respond to radio and dangerous approaches.
However, the Polish side denied taking provocative actions. The Polish Armed Forces Operational Command issued a statement saying that the Polish navy “did not carry out any provocative actions” and had always adhered to international law.
At the same time, the Polish side acknowledges that it conducts regular patrol and reconnaissance flights in the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s position on this matter is that foreign ships must strictly abide by all navigation rules in the operation area of Russia’s Nord Stream-2 project, said Alexander Grushko.
Russia still believes that this project can strengthen Europe’s energy security. He also pointed out that Russia is confident that the project will be completed by the end of 2021, and hopes that other countries will not take any action to hinder the construction of pipelines in the future.
Russia’s “Nord Stream-2” natural gas pipeline project is under construction
Russian parliamentarians and experts also commented on the presence of warships near the “Nord Stream-2” operation area. Igor Ananskeh, vice chairman of the Russian State Duma, said that these actions were accidental and did not attempt to “wield weapons”, “I hope it will not have a long-term and extensive nature”.
Vladimir Gutnev, the first vice chairman of the Russian Economic Policy and Industry Committee, believes that it is impossible for foreign military to cause real damage to the Nord Stream-2 project.
Konstantin Sivkov, a Corresponding Fellow of the Russian Academy of Rockets and Artillery, said that it is impossible for foreign warships to use weapons or break through pipelines through special equipment, because such behavior will be detected immediately. He pointed out that the current situation does not require Russian military intervention, because things will not turn into armed conflict.
According to the Russian military historian Evgeny Nolin, foreign warships have carried out reconnaissance and surveillance of the Nord Stream-2 project.
In fact, any country’s warship is equipped with state-of-the-art information collection, reconnaissance and surveillance equipment. The possibility of using warships to destroy pipelines is very low.