Riled on Nord Stream Probe, Russia Summons European Envoys
Russia on Thursday sent for the ambassadors of Denmark, Germany and Sweden to protest what it said was their refusal to Russian participation in and lack of transparency over investigations into “sabotage attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines”.
The foreign affairs ministry said the three European Union countries have not replied to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s request sent October asking for the involvement of Kremlin and Gazprom PJSC representatives in fact-finding missions over the September incidents. It said they have also ignored similar notices by Russian embassies.
“On the contrary, it is clear from their actions that they have been dragging out the time needed to reach any conclusion in an attempt to conceal the evidence and the true perpetrators of this crime, which, as we believe, involves certain countries”, the ministry said in a press release.
The Swedish government prosecutor overseeing Stockholm’s investigation had acknowledged the “detonations” that hit both pipelines of the twin Baltic Sea gas conveyor, which partly lies in Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones, may have been orchestrated by a government.
“We got a pretty clear picture at the scene of the crime of who carried it out”, Mats Ljungqvist told Russian state media TASS in comments about a Swedish update on the probe April 10. “It cannot be ruled out that there are some private individuals who may have been the perpetrators. Still, our main lead is, of course, that a government is behind it - directly or indirectly”.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh said February 8, 2023, citing an anonymous “source with direct knowledge of the operational planning”, the USA government had orchestrated the sabotage with help from the Norwegian navy. As Russian troops flocked to the border with Ukraine and war loomed, “President Joseph Biden saw the pipelines as a vehicle for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to weaponize natural gas for his political and territorial ambitions”, he wrote in a blog post on Substack.com.
Hersh said the Biden-ordered attack had been executed through remotely triggered explosives planted June 2022 “under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] exercise known as BALTOPS 22”.
The White House and the Pentagon denied the claims in comments to TASS the same day Hersh published the article.
The Danish Energy Agency said March 29 citing Denmark’s Defense Ministry local authorities had recovered an empty maritime smoke buoy near pipeline two with the presence of a Nord Stream AG representative.
Operator Nord Stream AG is 51 percent-owned by Russian majority state-owned Gazprom. Germany’s PEGI/E.ON and Wintershall Dea AG hold 15.5 percent each and the Netherlands’ N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie and France’s ENGIE have nine percent each, according to the Switzerland-based Nord Stream AG.
The twin pipelines, stretching a total of 760.56 miles (1,224 kilometers) between exporter Russia and destination Germany, have a combined annual capacity of about 1.94 trillion cubic feet (55 billion cubic meters) of gas, according to the Nord Stream AG website. That capacity is, as stated on the site, “enough to satisfy the energy demand of more than 26 million European households”.
Russia’s foreign affairs ministry told the envoys Moscow “intended to persist in its effort to compel the authorities in the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany], Denmark and Sweden to conduct an objective and comprehensive investigation into the sabotage attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines with the mandatory inclusion of Russia”.
The United Nations Security Council on March 27 rejected Russia’s request for an investigation with only China and Brazil joining it in the yes vote.
Earlier Thursday the foreign affairs ministry said it had decided to expel five Swedish diplomats and close Sweden’s consulate-general in Saint Petersburg in retaliation against Stockholm’s kickout of five Russian diplomats last month.
The consular office was ordered to close September 1, while Sweden’s consulate-general in Gothenburg would be suspended, the ministry said in another media statement.
Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Tobias Billström in a statement the same day decried the action insisting the ejection of the Russian diplomats was due to their “activities that were inconsistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”.
The statement posted on the Swedish government website said Russia’s retaliatory move confirmed “the negative political developments in Russia and the country’s international isolation”.
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